Residents are furious that a wind farm developer is blaming SBC’s ‘failure’ to make a timely decision as the reason for taking its application directly to the Government.
The appeal was lodged by Energie Kontor less than three weeks before the wind turbine application for Horn Burn, near Ayton, was due to be decided by the local planning committee and members of action group Sustaining our Beautiful Berwickshire say the decision to appeal is nothing more than a tactical ploy.
Commenting on the developer’s decision to appeal, group member Ray Porter said: “EnergieKontor is very light on detail surrounding the basis of its appeal but strong on reasons why its wind farm should be consented.
“Worse, particularly as the company is blaming Scottish Borders Council (SBC) for the delay, several key details pertinent to the whole planning process are completely missing including the actual sequence of events.’
As an example, Mr Porter cited missing correspondence: “On February 13, 2013, SBC Planning Officer John Hiscox wrote to EnergieKontor’s then project manager for Horn Burn, Thomas Walker,” he continued.
“Mr Hiscox advised that the Horn Burn application would not be presented at the planning committee meeting on Monday, April 1, because the Planning Department did not have the resources to get three wind farm applications ready for that date, but that the intention was to prepare the Horn Burn application for the April 29 meeting.
“This clearly demonstrates that both parties had already agreed to the Horn Burn case being presented at the April 1 meeting and not the February 27 meeting claimed in EnergieKontor’s appeal.
“So, while EnergieKontor did not formally agree to the 28 day extension to the end of April, it did not give the Planning Department any indication of its dismay at the delay – nor that it had already instructed its lawyers to draft an appeal.”
In November 2012, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) objected to the Horn Burn proposal due to radar interference, and Sustaining Beautiful Berwickshire say they can see no documentation which shows this has been addressed.
As Energie Kontor’s stated intention in November was not to proceed until they addressed the MOD issue, the action group argue neither the February 27 nor the April 1 meeting would therefore have been acceptable to the developer.
Sustaining Beautiful Berwickshire’s outrage at the Energie Kontor appeal has been supported by Berwickshire MSP John Lamont, who commented: “Many wind farm developers are aware of the local objections their proposals have and that as a result local authorities are likely to reject their planning applications.
“It is essential that developers are not allowed to cheat the system.”
In response to the allegations that their actions are purely tactical, a spokesperson for Energie Kontor commented:
“The decision to appeal on the grounds of non-determination by Scottish Borders Council, is based upon a consideration of the sites suitability for such a development: the site is located within an area of minor constraint for wind farm development and the limited period of time available (three months from the due date of determination) to an applicant to appeal under the planning regulations.”