A public inquiry has been triggered today after councillors lodged a formal objection to a proposed Borders windfarm which has divided communities.
Members of Scottish Borders Council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee were recommended not to formally object to the proposed 14-turbine Greystone Knowe Wind Farm, earmarked for land around 2km south of Heriot and 2.5km west of Fountainhall. The turbines would have maximum tip height of 180 metres.
But the majority of committee members objected to the application due to concerns over the “significantly adverse impact” on the environment.
Because of the scale of the wind farm, the final decision on approval lies with the Scottish Government’s Energy Consent Unit (ECU).
Now a public inquiry will be held to decide the application.
Tweeddale East ward’s SNP councillor Marshal Douglas said: “I do believe it would be detrimental to the landscape, in parts, not totally but certainly in parts it would be and it’s getting that balance correct because we very much need windfarms as we progress towards net zero, they are an absolute essential, but I don’t think that should be at any cost.
“It should be on how it fits into the landscape and we have objections from our own landscape officers to that effect. I would be minded to go against this and look for a public inquiry.”
Hawick and Denholm’s Conservative councillor Neil Richards said: “We have been taught to put windfarms in the countryside, we blend them in but now when it’s 180 metres or possibly 200, there’s no chance that they can be blended in anywhere so to have these there’s going to be a detrimental impact on peoples’ lives, I would suggest. You can’t have these things without upsetting somebody. I would want a reporter to make a decision on this, because they are all going to be 180 metres, that will become the norm.”
Committee chair Councillor Simon Mountford, who represents Kelso & District for the Conservatives, added: “I feel that the applicant failed to respond adequately to the landscape officers’ criticisms and failed to engage with the council on this matter and for that reason only I can’t support the application and am voting to object.”
Councillors voted by four to two in favour of triggering a public inquiry.
Heriot Community Council and Stow and Fountainhall Community Council submitted a joint objection to the development. They had expressed concerns that the “massive and highly intrusive” wind farm would be waved through without widespread objections being taken into account – including reservations from SBC’s own landscape architect.
Those concerns are not shared by others in the community, however, with some locals espousing the “enormous benefits” of wind farm investment to their communities.
One such supporter is Eibhlin McHugh, of Stow Cycle Club, a resident of Stow for over 30 years.
She said: “The communities of Stow and Fountainhall have two wind farms located in close proximity to both villages for a number of years. The negative impacts during the construction phase and their operation to date have been negligible.
“On the contrary, the community benefit funding derived from these wind farms has brought enormous benefits to both communities and have contributed to the development of what are vibrant and resilient communities.
“Numerous local facilities have been upgraded with the help of funding from the wind farms. They include Stow Station House, Fountainhall Village Hall, Stow Play Park, play equipment at Stow and Fountainhall schools, the Cycle Hub, Stow Bowling Club, the Community Garden and the proposed new pump track.”  https://www.midlothianview.com/news/public-inquiry-triggered-after-councillors-express-objections-to-borders-windfarm?fbclid=IwAR1G83PIJFWEkU-zAgk5NgbSnefc2xFS8sfijaQytA_swG4vw2Vo7SsdVR4

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