A proposed wind farm at a remote location south of Hawick is one of the most “ill judged and deficient” schemes ever put forward, according to community councillors.
Cheshire-based Community Windpower has submitted scoping plans for 46 wind turbines, some up to a maximum height of 200m, to be located on land at Cliffhope, north of Saughtree Station House in Newcastleton and a few hundred yards from the hamlet of Singdean.
The development is so large that it will be decided by the Scottish Government, although Scottish Borders Council has been asked for its views.
The applicant has pledged to fully engage with the local community through a lengthy consultation process and has pledged to meet all environmental protection standards to ensure it is not detrimental to tourism and historical sites, including Hermitage Castle.
However, residents and elected representatives have expressed strong objections to the plan.
Southdean Community Council discussed the plans this week, and its response to a scoping report filed by the developer is scathing.
Its response pulls no punches in criticising the “horrendous scheme”, labelling it “not remotely sympathetic to the local surroundings” and calling on local communities not to engage with the developer until it is “radically reappraised”.
The community council’s response criticises the developer for plans to locate turbines on ridges and high points that maximise visibility, thus heightening their impact on the landscape.
The community council also says the cumulative impact of all the wind farms proposed for the area should be assessed when considering this latest scheme, adding: “These would currently include Langhope Rig, Windy Edge, Barrel Law, Birneyknowe, Pines Burn, Wauchope East, Wauchope West and Newcastleton Forest.
“The 46 turbines proposed by Community Windpower would add to the huge number already proposed for the area, taking the running total to 189, which would overwhelm the area if all were approved.”
That approach proposed by the community council was fully endorsed when members met at Southdean Hall on Wednesday night.
Philip Kerr, chairman of the community council, said: “We had people there from other community councils, and issues were raised from the floor. The conclusion was that this is an extremely large development that would have a significant visual impact.
“People from the floor questioned why this is being called a community wind farm when it has no community support.”
Hawick and Hermitage councillor George Turnbull said: “Cliffhope is at the very early stages and will be dealt with by Scottish Government officials, with Scottish Borders Council being invited to submit their views on the application.
“It is of major concern to the residents that will be affected if this development is given permission.
“These turbines will be the biggest ever and require to be fitted with lights for aircraft safety.
“I would think the Ministry of Defence will have observations to make, as well as locals and others further afield.”
Christa Dobson, co-owner of the Singdean Guest House, opposes the development too, saying: “We’re all in favour of the national park for the area but wind farms play no part in a national park.”
A spokesperson for Community Windpower said the proposal would yield £20m for the local community over the course of its lifespan.
They added: “Cliffhope Community Wind Farm is strategically sited and has the potential to make a valuable contribution to renewable energy generation in the Scottish Borders and in Scotland.
“The Scottish Government recently re-stated an ambition to generate the equivalent of 50% of heat, transport and electricity requirements from renewable sources by 2030, representing a near threefold increase on current renewable generation.”