Independent report reveals ‘limited capacity’ for new wind farm developments in the Borders

An uplands panorama in the Borders
An uplands panorama in the Borders

An independent survey by a firm of Edinburgh-based planning consultants has found that there is ‘limited capacity’ for new wind-turbine farms in the Borders.

The report – commissioned by the local council – was open to public consultation and now forms part of the supplementary guidance on renewable energy developments in the Borders.

The Ironside Farrar report looked into the capacity and cumulative impact of the region’s wind energy landscape.

While the consultants found that there are areas in the Borders – namely upland areas in the north, extreme west and south-west – have the highest capacity for more wind farms, being able to accommodate “larger scale turbines in large commercial scale wind farms”,

It adds: “Much of the rest of the Borders has limited capacity for smaller scale developments, ranging from small clusters of turbines to single turbines.

“Significant areas – including much of the wilder, more distinctive upland areas, prominent hills and scenic or small scale river valleys and the coastline – have little or no capacity for development and areas in which current cumulative development limits the capacity for further development.

“Further development across the Borders needs careful consideration if undue levels of landscape change are to be avoided.”

Public responses included this from Jane Bower, from Upper Liddesdale and Hermitage, who said of the Scottish Government: “It would seek to turn this area into a landscape of wind turbines. This would drive out even more of the people in an area suffering from de-population and discourage even the low level of tourism which the area currently experiences.”

Energy developer Banks Renewables – which developed and sold a 13-turbine site at Quixmoor near Grantshouse – which has so far has been unsuccessful in applying for a 15-turbine site at Birneyknowe – commented:

“The elements of the draft relating to wind farms are written in a very negative manner. They have not been written in the spirit of encouraging further onshore wind farm development within the Borders, putting it at odds with the suite of documents the Scottish Government published … which all encourage further onshore wind farm development to ensure that the targets set by the Climate Change (Scotland) Act can be meet (sic) at the lowest cost.”

The council replied: “It is strongly disagreed that the text is written in a negative manner. Banks Renewables’ response completely ignores the need to strike a balance between supporting renewable energy and given weighting to protecting the landscape and protecting the environment.”

9 Apr 2018

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