Hermitage Castle
Hermitage Castle

CASTLES can be haunting and eerie places, with their mystical and romantic aura prompting one to imagine the things that took place there in acient times. Hermitage Castle is a prime example, and while the building may be semi-ruined, it is an emblem of Borders history with a backdrop of beautiful countryside.

“If those walls could talk” one might say. Indeed the castle will have borne witness to many trials and tribulations. The ghost of Mary Queen of Scots is said to be a haunting presence, and although she didn’t actually die there, it is well documented that she once visited to be at the bedside of her secret lover, the fourth earl of Bothwell, after he’d been injured in a scrap with local reivers. I told you there was something romantic about the site, even if a little illicit.

You only need to spend ten minutes reading about Hermitage Castle to realise its significance in Scottish history. “The guardhouse of the bloodiest valley in Britain” – author George Macdonald Fraser once said. His quote making my spine shiver with excitement and fear, as I envisage the troubles which embroiled this area in the past.

During its 400-year existence, the stronghold has been the birthplace of many a local legend and survived not only the inevitable deterioration which time brings, but also countless raids as the power struggle between Scotland and England raged on.

This is what makes Hermitage Castle so important and this is why the castle needs to be defended once more. I don’t mean that it’s time to dust off the family sword and prepare for battle, but there is a war waging in the Borderlands once again. It was only a matter of time before our region was seen as a prime location for renewable energy companies to build their wind farms.

Infinis, one of the largest generators of renewable energy in Britain, is hoping to build a massive wind farm that would overshadow Hermitage Castle and the surrounding countryside. The proposed 17-turbine site is a threat to not only one of the country’s most historic areas, but also the unspoilt scenery and wildlife in the area.

It would be a travesty to allow an organisation to construct this obscene vision, especially considering there is no evidence to suggest wind farms are reducing the amount of carbon emissions in Britain or any other country for that matter. Electricity from wind farms cannot be stored, making it an unpredictable energy source, which means wind farms need frequent back up from a reliable energy source. Where is the sense in this?

Scottish Borders Council has to be sensible about the proposal from Infinis . . . and discard it. Don’t ge me wrong, I’m all for renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions, but when it comes to tarnishing the landscape and ruining the identity of an area, it’s time to find an alternative.

Protecting areas of historical interest and natural beauty is a must, and it’s completely unacceptable for big companies to think they can muscle their way in and erect giant turbines as if they were planting potatoes.

If Infinis’ plans get the green light from Scottish Borders Council, it would be a decision akin to the one taken by the idiot who approved a McDonald’s fast-food outlet in view of the Egyptian pyramids.