Grants available for replacement trees

Woodland was lost to make room for Penmanshiel wind farm and a grant scheme has now opened for replacement woodland schemes
Woodland was lost to make room for Penmanshiel wind farm and a grant scheme has now opened for replacement woodland schemes

The 14 turbines that will make up the Penmanshiel wind farm have arrived on site near Grantshouse and are expected to start generating electricity by autumn this year.

The planning consent for the wind power plant included a condition that a new woodland should be created to replace the trees cut down at Penmanshiel to make way for the 100m-high turbines being erected on the 60-hectare plot, and Scottish Borders Council is now launching a forestation initiative in connection with the development.

Grants are available through the Penmanshiel compensatory replanting scheme for a range of woodland types, including new native woodland, productive conifer, diverse conifer, productive broad-leaf and amenity woodland.

A total of 110 hectares of new woodland – almost twice the size of the wind farm site – is to be created under the scheme.

It is being run by SAC Consulting on behalf of the council, and grants handed out as part of it are expected to deliver benefits including greater biodiversity, landscape enhancement, natural flood protection and water quality improvements.

The preferred area for planting is within 12 miles of the Penmanshiel wind farm to reintroduce woodland into areas affected by the development.

However, the scheme is open to communities, farmers, foresters and land owners across the whole of the Borders.

The new planting is being funded by global wind farm firm Renewable Energy Systems (RES) as part of a planning condition.

Total payouts, set at a similar level to the Scottish Government’s forestry grant scheme, per hectare for planting will range from £4,730 for productive conifers to £8,250 for urban or amenity woodland.

The council’s executive member for planning and environment, Hawick and Hermitage councillor Ron Smith, said: “With the help of farmers, land managers and communities, we hope new woodland created under the scheme will bring multiple benefits to our communities, including enhanced biodiversity and landscape, natural flood protection and further improvements to the water quality of our rivers.

“This scheme also aims to maintain and enhance our high-quality environment, including easily-accessible woodland around our towns and villages, and shows the benefits that can be achieved through the use of planning conditions and developer contributions.”

Planning permission for the wind farm was first applied for in November 2011.

That application was turned down by the council, but its rejection was overturned on appeal by the Scottish Government in 2013.

RES says it will make an important contribution to Scotland’s energy targets and deliver significant benefits to the local community.

Details of the scheme can be found on SAC’s website, www.sruc.ac.uk/pcrgs, and will also be available at its stand at this weekend’s Border Union Show at Kelso’s Springwood Park.