Controversial Mount Lothian estate wind farm plans rejected

Sir Robert Clerk, pictured at Penicuik House, has declined to comment on the rejection of the plans. Picture: Neil Hanna
Sir Robert Clerk, pictured at Penicuik House, has declined to comment on the rejection of the plans. Picture: Neil Hanna
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A controversial plan to construct a wind farm on an estate owned by one of Scotland’s most distinguished noble families has been dismissed by the planning authorities.

A bid to put up turbines on land owned by Sir Robert Clerk of Penicuik has been rejected by the Scottish Government.

The decision was taken in response to an appeal lodged by the developer Wind Prospect Developments Ltd.

The renewables company made the appeal after Midlothian Council failed to reach a decision on the Mount Lothian development within four months of submission.

The saga has led to the neighbouring landowner and independent Midlothian councillor Peter de Vink criticising Sir Robert for the amount of taxpayers’ money spent on the plan. Cllr de Vink has called on Sir Robert to stand down from his position as Lord Lieutenant for Midlothian, the Queen’s official representative in the county.

The plan for nine turbines near Penicuik has been a long-standing bone of contention between Cllr de Vink and Sir Robert, whose family has been associated with Penicuik House for centuries and played a prominent role in the Scottish Enlightenment.

Cllr de Vink has been a vociferous critic of the system that sees landowners paid large sums in rent by renewable generators who build on their land. When the plans first came to light Cllr de Vink claimed Sir Robert would “trouser millions” as a result of the development, which would have seen seven of the nine turbines built on his land.

A reporter appointed by Scottish ministers found against the appeal made by Wind Prospect Developments Ltd on the grounds that the turbines would have been out of scale and dominated the Moorfoot Hills. The reporter said: “I find that the combination of height, number and layout results in a wind farm design that is out of scale with the receiving landscape. I consider that this results in a visually unfortunate proposal which would be perceived by many people.

“I conclude that this proposal would have an unacceptable effect on the wider environment by reason of its landscape and visual impacts.”

Cllr de Vink criticised the development and Sir Robert’s role in it, estimating half a million pounds had been spent by the taxpayer and local people who have dipped into their own pockets to fight the proposals. Sir Robert did not want to comment on the issue.

Wind Prospect Developments has said it is “extremely disappointed” that the Scottish Government has rejected the application for the Mount Lothian wind farm.