Green light for wind turbines sparks outrage

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ANGRY residents have slammed a Scottish Government decision to overrule councillors and a decision to refuse a wind turbine development in a Lothian beauty spot.

A proposal by John MacGregor to build two 70-metre high turbines at Ferneylea Farm, on the edge of the Lammermuir Hills, was rejected by East Lothian Council in March over fears it would harm the landscape.

However, Mr MacGregor appealed to the Scottish Government’s planning directorate and his project has now been approved.

Residents in the nearby village of Oldhamstocks today told the Evening News of their fear the development would lead to the landscape being covered in wind turbines and accused government ministers of ignoring community views.

The row is just the latest to hit the area and comes two years after botanist and broadcaster David Bellamy joined a campaign against another wind turbine project in the Lammermuir Hills.

Chris Bruce, an Oldhamstocks resident and chair of East Lammermuir Community Council, said: “This is a conservation area and it’s the cumulative impact of developments such as this that people are concerned about. It’s the notion that wherever you turn there will be wind turbines in the backdrop.

“This application is not a one-off. New wind turbines will be visible from the village until screening trees are planted, and there are others to come.”

Another resident, who did not want to be named, said: “The landscape around here is pretty unspoilt but it won’t be after this. What we are all concerned about is how many more of these things are now going to get the go-ahead?

“The ministers are not listening to local planning authorities and they’re definitely not listening to local residents – it’s not democratic.”

The planning directorate’s decision, which is open to challenge at the Court of Session, was also attacked by bosses at East Lothian Council. A council spokesman said: “While East Lothian supports government aims to secure greater energy generation from renewable sources, the benefits have to be weighed against the impact of any such developments on the local environment.

“In this case, any benefit from the turbines as a renewable energy source is outweighed by the harmful impact they will have on the landscapes in question.”

But in his decision letter, David Buylla, the reporter appointed by the Scottish Government to assess Mr MacGregor’s appeal, said the application would have no “objectionable” effect on the landscape and would not compromise the Oldhamstocks conservation area.

He added: “This proposal would make only a relatively modest contribution towards the achievement of government renewable energy targets but this would nevertheless be worthwhile.

“And given the low level of landscape and visual impact, the renewable energy benefits would adequately compensate for the effect the development would have on its surroundings.”