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Firm urged to move on after windfarm rejected

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Firm urged to move on after windfarm rejected

WINDFARM developers are being urged to drop any more plans for a site near Langholm.

Community Windpower’s bid for 45 turbines at Faw Side, six kilometres from the town, has been rejected by the Scottish Government.

And South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth is urging the firm not to appeal against that decision.

Faw Side, which was to run along the A7 north of Langholm up to Hawick, was thrown out due to its “significant” landscape and visual impacts.

As well as 335 community objections, both Scottish Borders Council and Dumfries and Galloway Council had formally objected to the plans. Furthermore, concerns had been raised by the Ministry of Defence about the impact on the nearby Eskdalemuir Seismic Array.

The government reporter’s overall conclusion was that, despite options to mitigate and apply planning conditions to overcome the significant adverse effects on other identified matters, the proposed development’s significant adverse landscape, visual and residential amenity effects and potential effects on defence interests at Eskdalemuir would not be acceptable overall.

In response, Community Windpower said: “We are taking time to review the reports and decision. Nonetheless, we remain committed to Scotland’s renewable energy industry, businesses and supply chains.”

However, Mr Smyth hopes they won’t challenge the decision legally or bring back similar proposals.

He said: “Onshore wind obviously remains crucial to the Government in meeting their climate targets and reducing emissions, and it’s also one of the cheapest forms of energy production.

“But that doesn’t mean there should be a free for all when it comes to where windfarms are located.

“The Scottish Government rejected the plans for very valid reasons. This was absolutely the wrong development in the wrong place and would have had a very significant adverse visual impact in what is a regional scenic area. There were also real fears over effect on the Eskdalemuir Seismological Recording Station.”

He cited the cumulative impact of so many windfarms in the area as one of his main concerns, adding: “Communities are happy to take their fair share of developments but at times people in the area feel under attack because there has been one windfarm after another.

“Where the visual impact isn’t as bad as the one that would have been created by Fawside, I think communities in general may be more tolerant of developments in their area if they saw more direct benefits. We know that none of the wind turbines that would be part of this- or indeed any other development – will have been manufactured in Scotland- and very few of the jobs created by Faw Side would have been anywhere near the turbines themselves.

“Obviously it has to be the right development in the right place but we also need to ensure there is far more direct benefits to the communities who have windfarms on their doorsteps or the Government will face more opposition as they try to meet their target to double onshore windpower.

“In the meantime, I hope Community Windpower don’t try to overturn this very clear decision or bring it back in a different form.”

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