Mixed feelings voiced over extra turbines

The official opening of Fallago Rig wind farm took place on a dreich August day in 2013
The official opening of Fallago Rig wind farm took place on a dreich August day in 2013

Lammermuir Community Council has expressed “outrage and disbelief” that a Scottish Borders Council planning officer is recommending support for an extension to the Fallago Rig wind farm.

Planning consent for the current wind farm at Fallago took seven years and involved two public inquiries, Scottish Borders Council being one of the objectors to its development.

The Scottish Government gave consent for the 48 turbine wind farm in 2010 and it became operational in 2013.

Operator EDF now want to increase the number of turbines by 12 and extend the lifespan of the existing 48 turbines beyond their permitted 25 years to match the lifespan of the new ones.

East Lothian Council has maintained its objection to further development at Fallago Rig, but Scottish Borders councillors are being advised to support it.

There is also support from local companies such as Redpath Tyres and Robertson Timber.

They have lodged letters of support with the council, seeing it as being good for local jobs.

Lammermuir Community Council chairman Mark Rowley points out that of the 576 large-scale turbines approved in the Borders, 391 affect Berwickshire, and most of them are in the Lammemuirs.

He said: “It seems incredible that an assistant planning officer would recommend support for an even larger version of a wind farm than the existing one that Scottish Borders Council was so clear was unacceptable.

“We are particularly disappointed that the report doesn’t seem to recognise the huge risks that, if either Fallago Rig 1 or Fallago Rig 2 are consented, Scottish planning policy would deem the sites suitable for wind farm use in perpetuity.

“Officers seem determined to consign the Lammermuir Hills to becoming a permanent wind farm landscape.

“There is simply no need for an additional wind farm here or for the existing one to be extended.

“Scottish energy targets are already effectively met, and much of Fallago Rig’s potential to generate power is already being wasted with almost 200,000mwh lost and over £16m of constraint payment added to consumers’ bills in just three years.

“This isn’t an efficient exercise in wind farming as so much of that power is lost.

“It looks like an attempt at subsidy farming. If payments continued at current levels, Fallago Rig could receive around £140m from consumers during its lifetime.

“With 145m turbines being built nearby at Aikengall, and other local wind farms still waiting for ministers to determine, we urge councillors to take a precautionary approach, to maintain their existing position and object to additional wind farm development in the Lammermuir Hills.

“These complex wind farms raise significant issues that require the full scrutiny that only a public local inquiry can provide.”

A Scottish Borders Council spokesperson said: “The planning and building standards committee will consider this matter on Monday, so the council has made no decision.

“Council officers have considered a proposal to extend Fallago Rig wind farm by adding 12 additional turbines and vary condition two of the existing Fallago Rig wind farm consent to extend the operational life of the wind farm by a further five years.

“Officers are now recommending that members do not object to the proposal.

“This is based on a detailed professional assessment of the application, its impacts and consistency with national and local planning policy.”