Decision on Howpark Wind Farm delayed

Anti-windfarm protesters at the Drone Hill turbine site on Coldingham Moor
Anti-windfarm protesters at the Drone Hill turbine site on Coldingham Moor

A decision on planning consent for the eight-turbine Howpark Wind Farm near Grantshouse has been postponed for the impact of turbine noise to be investigated.

Scottish Borders Council’s planning committee agreed on Monday, March 27, that a new noise impact survey should be undertaken before a decision is reached.

East Berwickshire councillor Michael Cook

East Berwickshire councillor Michael Cook

The site for the wind farm proposed by applicants LE20 Ltd, is adjacent to the operational 22-turbine Drone Hill Wind Farm and the 14-turbine Penmanshiel Wind Farm, currently being built.

A key concern for councillors was that the committee previously opposed Drone Hill and Penmanshiel wind farms but their decision was overturned by the Scottish Government. The report before councillors this week noted: “The existing wind farm developments at Drone Hill and Penmanshiel have changed the character of the landscape.”

In 2014 the council’s planning committee concluded that this location in eastern Berwickshire had reached its maximum capacity for wind turbines but developers continue to submit applications.

Community councils for Abbey St Bathens, Bonkyl and Preston, Cockburnspath and Cove and Grantshouse all objected to the current proposal as did 24 residents.

East Berwickshire councillor Michael Cook said: “It’s by no exaggeration to say that without the existing wind farms this would be an open and shut case, this application would be roundly rejected.

“The only reason the recommendation is for approval is, in the words of the report, the new adverse impact caused by this development is diluted by the proposal being added to the backdrop of the existing wind farms.”

Councillor Michelle Ballantyne found the issue of noise troubling. She said: “We used to talk about the fact that wind turbines needed to be at least 2-2.5km away from housing, now its 700m and that’s an enormous difference for people who have to live with this on a daily basis.”

Her concerns about noise were echoed by all other members of the committee.

A report by the council’s chief planning officer recommended that the committee approved the application stating in his report: “It is considered, on balance, that the scale of change is not so significant as to warrant refusal.”

His report also adds: “Noise generated by the development of Howpark is not considered likely to detrimentally affect the amenity of affected residential properties.”

Councillor Ron Smith concluded: “To be able to defend a refusal we need to be absolutely secure in our understanding of the grounds, therefore it might be beneficial to continue this for a fuller report on how noise will be assessed, monitored and responded to.”