Aikengall wind farm’s 19 new turbines

THE wind farm at Aikengall, Wester Dod, in the Lammermuirs, bordering Berwickshire and East Lothian, is to be extended by 19 turbines.

Scottish Government Ministers have given approval for the extension to go ahead, following a public inquiry into an application by Community Windpower Limited, for 22 turbines 11km south of Dunbar. Permission for three turbines was refused on the advice of the Reporter, Michael Cunliffe.

Aikengall wind farm’s original 16 turbines (125m high) started producing electricity in 2009, and almost immediately the company began to draw up plans to extend the wind farm by 30 turbines, up to 145m in height, to the south east of the existing wind farm; 27 of the turbines in East Lothian and three in Berwickshire.

The plans for the extension met opposition from Scottish Borders Council and a number of the nearby community councils, and Community Windpower Ltd eventually lodged plans that reduced the number of turbines to 22, the three in the Scottish Borders Council area all removed.

SBC, however, continued to oppose the windfarm extension, but their views were dismissed by Mr Cunliffe who said: “I attach little weight to the SBC plans since the development would be wholly located in East Lothian.”

Mark Rowley, chairman of Cranshaw, Ellemford and Longformacus Community Council said: “Our community is shocked and saddened by this poorly-justified decision to impose the tallest turbines in Scotland on one of the highest and most distinctive landforms in the Lammermuirs, the Monynut Edge.

“Whilst this is a devastating decision for residents and our area perhaps the rigorous objection has some value. This is now a 19 turbine scheme, not the threatened 22 or 30, impacts on Oldhamstocks are reduced and there is the promise of robust noise monitoring for our nearest residents just 1000m away from turbines.”

Concerns that some of the proposed turbines would be inappropriately placed were shared by the Reporter who advised that “the turbines on the spur extending northeastwards from Wester Dod hill to Wightman Hill would have a disproportionate effect”. Mr Cunliffe’s views were accepted by Scottish Ministers, and the number of turbines was reduced to 19.

Announcing their decision the Scottish Government report said: “The Scottish Ministers have considered fully and carefully the application and the Reporter’s findings, reasoning and conclusions and recommendation with respect to the application contained in the report, along with accompanying documents.

“The objections raised concerns on a number of subjects, including cumulative, visual and wildlife impacts. There was a lot of general support for the application in that it will help to contribute to our renewables target and it is a preferable and efficient form of producing energy.

“Scottish Ministers consider that any impacts which remain are outweighed by the benefits the development will bring.”

Those benefits are expected to be: 100 construction jobs and five jobs during operation; £98 million of capital investment; £25 million contribution to upgrade defence radar installations; community benefit of £250,000 a year for 25 years.