Developers scale down plans for Blackmains windfarm

FOLLOWING various consultations with the local community, ENERTAG have scaled down their plans for a windfarm between Reston and Ayton.

Plans for the renewable energy development at Blackmains were made public last summer and the Dunfermline-based company held a series of community engagement events in Ayton, Reston and Coldingham during the autumn to gauge public opinion on their proposals. And it would appear the feedback they received was the main catalyst behind their decision to reduce the seven turbines originally laid down in the plans to three and prepare a new application.

The new proposal will see the three turbines originally proposed for the western edge of the project site removed as well as the easternmost turbine closest to Ayton.

If approved, the proposal would have an installed capacity of nine megawatts, and the capability to generate around 23.6 gigawatt hours of electricity a year – enough to power almost 4,300 homes.

ENERTRAG now proposes to carry out more detailed analysis of the revised lay-out with a view to hosting further public consultation events before submitting a planning application for the project sometime in the autumn.

Director of ENERTRAG Ltd. Christopher Small said: “In recent weeks, we’ve been taking careful stock of the wide range of feedback we’ve received about the Blackmains wind farm proposal with a view to identifying a revised proposal that would be more appropriate for the landscape in this particular area of east Berwickshire.

“We’ve sought to develop a lay-out that would significantly reduce the visual impact of the wind farm on the nearby settlements of Reston and Ayton and for other properties in the area surrounding the site.

“This significant revision still has the economies of scale needed to make it a financially viable wind farm and the turbines will still have sufficient height to take advantage of the very good wind resource there is on the site.

“But in scaling back the number of turbines from seven to three, we’ve also sought to address specific concerns about the visual impact of the project on local residents as well as the wider landscape.”

Chair of Reston and Aunchencrow Community Council, Logan Inglis said he felt that the majority of those involved in liaisons with the developers were happy with this week’s announcement.

“For people in Reston particularly, the new plans are good news,” he commented.

“In the original plans the closest turbine was just 700 metres away from people’s houses but now it’s well over a kilometre away.

“Most of those who oppose a development at Blackmains aren’t dead set against wind farms; there is a place for wind turbines but there have been repeated concerns about the close proximity of those at Blackmains not only to people’s houses but to the A1 as well.”

Like Logan, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, who lives in Ayton, said he had concerns about the site and was worried about ENERTRAG’s reluctance to commit to a legal agreement preventing them from expanding the site in the future.

“I’ve had a very mixed response from the people of Ayton in relation to the application,” he explained.

“The community council here are unwilling to second guess what the larger community think so they are planning their own referendum.

“I was present at a meeting between the developers and the opposers and asked ENERTRAG if they would be prepared to follow the lead of Berwickshire Housing Association (Hoprigshiels) and Banks Energy (Quixwood) and give a legal commitment not to expand. They seemed reluctant to do so which left me slightly nervous.”