Councillors oppose Fallago Rig extension plans

Fallago Rig wind farm, near Longformacus.
Fallago Rig wind farm, near Longformacus.

Councillors went against officers’ recommendations this week and opted to oppose plans to expand and extend the life of a controversial wind farm.

Plans to add an extra 12 turbines to the Fallago Rig wind farm, near Longformacus, and to extend the site’s lifespan by five years went before Scottish Borders Council planning committee on Tuesday.

Operators EDF Energy Renewables hope to add a further 12 turbines to the exising 48 turbine development and to extend the life of the first phase by five years to allow the whole site to be decomossioned together.

Planning officers had advised Scottish Borders Council to make no objection to the scheme to the Scottish government.

However, having taken part in a site visit, and following this week’s indepth debate they went against that recommendation citing, in particular, the cumulative effects on the landscape.

The first phase of the project in the Lammermuir Hills was opposed by a high-profile campaign but eventually gained approval following a Court of Session ruling in 2013.

The authority’s executive member for planning and environment, councillor Ron Smith stressed to the committee that this was an entirely different application and situation to that which had previously come before councillors in 2005.

“I am satisfied that the report we have before us is thorough and detailed,” he said. “The officers have come to a reasoned and robust recommendation for us to consider.”

However, concerns were raised by councillor Donald Moffat on the proporsed transport plans which would see over 6.000 loads, which would include 126 in one day at the busiest time, brought through the region’s road.

He said: “The biggest thing that concerns me is the plans to bring the stone in through Smailholm and Crialing. I don’t see how that route can be a viable option at all and I think it would be a definite no in my mind.”

East Berwickshire councillor Joan Campbell echoed this concern and added her own about the culmulative impact of the additional turbines, saying: “It is becoming a little worrying that it is becoming a bit compacted.”

The authority’s executive member for planning and environment, councillor Ron Smith reflected “It worries me that by adding more to the bulk and extending the sides, there could by further inexorable creep of wind turbines across that area.”

“It think it is dangerous for us to accept further turbines on the basis that they will not be too damaging.”

The committee chose to object to the recommendations on the grounds of culmulitive impact, the detriment to the landscape, the impact for recrational users of nearby viewpoints, as well as their view that points relating to the wider economic benefit and noise impact had not been proven.

Councillor Ballantyne raised the movements to oppose the applications, both of which were seconded by councillor Jim Fullerton and approved unanimously by all the voting members.

The Scottish government will have the final say on whether the applications are given the go-ahead.