Wind farm application for Scottish Borders rejected for a third time

A wind farm application for the Scottish Borders has been rejected for the third time on the grounds that it would cause significant landscape and visual impacts, councillors have said.

The Scottish Borders Council Planning Committee voted against their officials’ recommendation to approve the application for Wull Muir Wind Farm by six votes to three.

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Councillors had previously rejected the eight-turbine scheme, developed by EnergieKontor, and it was also dismissed on appeal. The re-designed scheme had repositioned the turbines back from the Lammermuirs/Moorfoot escarpment, but with an increase of turbine height to 149 metres.

After the third attempt from the developer, the council’s landscape architect submitted a report warning there was danger of turning the site into a “wind farm landscape”.

The councillors concluded the proposed development was contrary to policy 11 of National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) and policy ED9 of the Scottish Borders Local Development Plan 2016 in that the wind farm would have significant adverse landscape and visual impacts particularly on the north and south of the proposed site.

The plans had been met with widespread opposition locally, Heriot Community Council and even Scottish Borders Council’s own landscape architect.

In a presentation to the planning committee today, Heriot Community Council said they and the local Scottish Borders Council Landscape Architect made clear the re-design was unacceptable and the wind farm developer failed to address the Planning Reporter’s previous concerns.

The community council stated that NPF4 is a planning framework that underlines a requirement for the right development in the right place and Wull Muir is not a suitable site.

The news comes as UK Labour government announced it has dropped the de facto ban on new onshore windfarms in England.

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The ban was caused by two footnotes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the rules that govern the building of homes and infrastructure.

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The footnotes, which only applied to onshore wind energy, required strong evidence that there was no local opposition to wind farms which made the developments challenging given there is nearly always some local resistance to any building proposal.

In Labour’s new draft NPPF, these footnotes have been deleted, meaning onshore wind projects are now on an even footing with all other forms of infrastructure.

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