‘No objection’ recommendation to windfarm

Wednesday March 20th 2024


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Paul Kelly

Councillors will be recommended not to object to a proposed windfarm despite concerns from villagers that they have been “left without a voice” over plans for 180 metre turbines on their doorstep.

The recommendation will come before Scottish Borders Council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee when members meet on Monday 25th March, to consider the proposed 14-turbine Greystone Knowe Wind Farm, earmarked for land around 2km south of Heriot and 2.5km west of Fountainhall.

Because of the scale of the wind farm, the final decision on approval lies with the Scottish Government’s Energy Consent Unit (ECU).

But Heriot Community Council and Stow and Fountainhall Community Council have submitted a joint objection to the development. They had expressed concerns that the “massive and highly intrusive” wind farm would be waved through without widespread objections being taken into account – including reservations from SBC’s own landscape architect.

Those concerns are not shared by others in the community, however, with some locals espousing the “enormous benefits” of wind farm investment to their communities.

One such supporter is Eibhlin McHugh, of Stow Cycle Club, a resident of Stow for over 30 years.

She said: “I have been involved in the establishment of Stow Cycle Hub whose aim is to promote cycling for everyday journeys and realise its benefits for health and well-being.

“I am active in numerous community activities. I believe that the views expressed are not representative of the wider community.

“The communities of Stow and Fountainhall have two wind farms located in close proximity to both villages for a number of years. The negative impacts during the construction phase and their operation to date have been negligible.

“On the contrary, the community benefit funding derived from these wind farms has brought enormous benefits to both communities and have contributed to the development of what are vibrant and resilient communities.

“Numerous local facilities have been upgraded with the help of funding from the wind farms. They include Stow Station House, Fountainhall Village Hall, Stow Play Park, play equipment at Stow and Fountainhall schools, the Cycle Hub, Stow Bowling Club, the Community Garden and the proposed new pump track.

“Added to this list are numerous local community activities, benefiting all sectors of the community; the Parents and Toddlers Group, Stow Kids Club, Green Stow, Stowed Out Festivals, Galawater Singers, Stow Pipe Band, Galawater History and Heritage Association, Stow and Fountainhall Pensioners, Buzz and Beyond and the Community Newsletter etc.”

Ms McHugh believes these facilities and activities that are supported by wind farm funding have made an enormous contribution to the quality of life across the whole community.

She added: “Perhaps most importantly, the wind farms helped fund the development of the local Community Action Plan which sets out the community’s ambitions for the continuing development of the local area. The Community Action Plan together with numerous other community activities highlights the local community’s aspirations to address the climate and biodiversity challenge.

“Local initiatives include the establishment of the Cycle Hub, regular events organised by Green Stow focused on enabling the community to work together to reduce our carbon footprint.

“The provision of clean energy on the scale that the Greystone Knowe development will deliver is a vital part of our journey together to transition from our current dependency on fossil fuels to clean energy for our needs.

“Stow Community Council initially decided not to oppose this development however following lobbying from a neighbouring community council they decided to change their position and lodge a joint objection.

“More recently following community council elections, members have discussed the need to seek the views of the local community on wind farms to inform their decision making.

“I recognise the concerns of community members who are opposed to this development. They should however be reassured by the recommendations that SBC officers have put forward for this development that will if implemented ensure that their fears are not realised and we can look forward to making a significant contribution to our journey to net zero and the continuing development of our community for the benefit of all.”

Councillors paid a site visit to the development site earlier this month.

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