THE company behind plans for Scoop Hill has announced changes to their proposed major windfarm near Moffat.
Community Windpower Limited (CWL) has said it will remove three of the initially-planned 75 turbines from the development in response to concerns raised by Moffat residents about their visibility from the town centre.
Plans for Scoop Hill, which if approved would stretch across 22 square miles between Eskdalemuir, Boreland and Moffat, were submitted by the Cheshire-based developer last November. It is still awaiting a decision on the project from the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit (ECU), which has not yet received responses from all the statutory consultees involved.
Steve Millburn, CWL’s senior project manager, said in a letter to Moffat Community Council that the “vast majority” of statutory consultees have not raised objections so far.
But he added “two key concerns” emerged following engagement with consultees and townsfolk.
He noted them as “the visibility of turbines from Moffat, and more specifically, Moffat High Street” and the development’s “potential impact on Golden Eagles”.
The RSPB submitted a formal objection to Scoop Hill in January, citing “significant concerns about the impact that this proposal will have on Golden Eagle through collision risk”.
It said it would be open to reconsidering its position if there were “substantial changes” made to the application.
The changes recommended by the RSPB included removing 29 turbines from the plans – significantly more than the three proposed by CWL.
Reacting to the announcement, Save Our Hills Moffat said: “The CWL letter notifying the Moffat Community Council of their preparedness to reduce the number of turbines in the proposed Scoop Hill windfarm by three turbines was not unexpected and will probably be followed by further offers.
“However, our view is that Scoop Hill windfarm is unnecessary and its location is totally inappropriate. The adverse impact on the local economies would far exceed any perceived benefits.”
Mr Millburn said the removal of the turbines at the north-western edge of the windfarm would make a “significant improvement” and should “allay many of the concerns raised to date”.
He continued: “The decision to remove these turbines has now been formally communicated to both the ECU and Dumfries and Galloway Council.
“In addition to the removal of the three turbines, further re-design work is being undertaken to reconfigure access tracks etc, within the site boundary and this work is well underway.
“As soon as the overall design changes have been completed, CWL will be in a position to circulate a revised layout plan with accompanying updated visualisations to community councils.”
The changes will trigger a further statutory consultation exercise.
Meanwhile, Scottish Power has revealed the windfarm will be connected up to the national grid one-and-a-half miles away at Moffat substation via overhead lines.
It has launched an online consultation to gather views on the preferred route for the connection cables and issues, suggestions or feedback the energy company should consider during this stage.
The consultation is running until November 28 and can be accessed at www.scoophillohl.co.uk.
Furthermore, Dumfries and Galloway Council has been granted a second deadline extension for its decision on Scoop Hill to undertake a “landscape and visual assessment”. A response from the local authority is now expected in February 2022.