A DUKE has been ordered to stop carrying out building work that locals say is linked to a wind farm which has not yet been granted planning permission.
Scottish Borders Council has written to the Duke of Roxburghe, as well as North British Windpower, after residents spotted work being done to build bridge foundations next to the River Dye.
North British Windpower has applied to build a 48-turbine wind farm, known as Fallago Rig, on a site in the Lammermuir Hills on the duke's estate close to the building work, but it has not yet been granted permission.
Local residents said the bridges were being put in place to allow access to the wind farm site. They said lorry drivers involved in the work had been asking directions to "the wind farm".
However, the duke's factor has denied the work was linked to the wind farm, claiming it was instead being carried out to improve access to local farms.
Scottish Borders Council has confirmed that since its enforcement department wrote to the Roxburghe estate, the work has stopped.
In a letter seen by The Scotsman, Peter Green, assistant enforcement officer, said: "As a result of two site investigations and a meeting with both Roxburghe Estates and North British Wind Power, Scottish Borders Council has concluded that there are several locations that have been identified as unauthorised development.
"Scottish Borders Council has required that all works in relation to these sites are stopped and no further unauthorised works carried out."
Campaigners against the wind farm think the work is a sign the developers are convinced the facility will gain planning permission.
Letters between the duke and MSPs mentioning the wind farm plans have been seen by The Scotsman.
Mark Rowley, vice-chairman of Cranshaws, Ellemford and Longformacus Community Council, said: "The local community's key concern is not just the jumping-the-gun of starting works associated with a wind farm that has yet to be consented, but the arrogance and confidence in the future result that such a premature start suggests."
He added: "In committing expenditure and starting the work on the wind farm in breach of planning law, the Roxburghe Estates obviously assume a level of government protection and support that will produce an outcome in their favour."
Roddy Jackson, factor for the Roxburghe estate, insisted the works were to improve access to farms, and not the planned wind farm.
He added: "We have written to the council asking them to reconsider the view that they have reached that the works were not permitted under the planning legislation."
A spokesman for North British Windpower said: "The only work we have carried out on-site thus far has been geotechnical and topographical surveys.
"That is part of normal pre-development investigations and design work.
"We have written to Scottish Borders Council to explain this and set out our position."