Co’path turbines decision upheld

Cockburnspath resident Sally Carroll who lost her Court of Session challenge to SBC's decision to allow two turbines to be built at Neuk Farm
Cockburnspath resident Sally Carroll who lost her Court of Session challenge to SBC's decision to allow two turbines to be built at Neuk Farm
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The decision to allow two 
110-metre wind turbines to 
be erected at Neuk Farm, Cockburnspath, has been 
upheld in the Court of Session.

Cockburnspath resident Sally Carroll lodged an appeal last year against the decision made by Scottish Borders Council’s local review body in February 2013.

However, the appeal was turned down by judge Lord Armstrong who ruled that the matter was ultimately one of planning judgement and that the council had reached their decision within the powers of the 1997 Act.

Lord Armstrong added that he had some sympathy for Ms Carroll who clearly felt strongly about the decision and its effect on her local community.

The local review body’s decision was described by Cockburnspath Community Council at the time as “a disgrace” and they backed Mrs Carroll’s appeal, under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997, alleging that there had been a failure to take into account “material considerations” and that the interpretation of relevant planning policies had not been properly carried out.

Releasing a statement after planning consent was given by the local review body, the community council said: “The Local Review Body has failed us on a number of counts: consistency with planning policy; ill-conceived reliance on “economic benefits” arguments; the refusal of an offer to visit the site.

“This is an issue of local democracy.”

Scottish Borders Council welcomed last week’s judgement, and Councillor Ron Smith, executive member for planning and environment and chair of the council’s Local Review Body said: “I welcome the judgement in that it upholds the decision of the local review body and confirms that our actions were entirely lawful and proper.”

In a landmark ruling in Scotland, Mrs Carroll applied to have a cap put on the costs should her legal challenge to the planning approval be unsuccessful and in July last year a Court of Session judge agreed to limit the amount to £5000.

Judge, Lord James Drummong Young also made an order preventing Wind Direct from putting up the turbines until the appeal had been decided.

Now that the turbines can go up as a result of last week’s judgement, Nicola Mortimer, development manager at Wind Direct, said: “We are delighted with the judge’s decision, and feel that Scottish Borders Council and their councillors have demonstrated a high level of professionalism with their decision making process standing up to scrutiny at the highest level. Wind Direct can now move the project forward with a view to supplying Kinegar Quarry with green electricity from 2015 onwards.”

Two planning applications for two wind turbines at Neuk Farm/Kinegar Quarry near Cockburnspath were originally turned down. The first time was for turbines 130m high and when Wind Direct Ltd appealed the decision, Scottish Borders Council’s local review body also rejected it.

Wind Direct submitted a new application, reducing the turbines to 110m which was also thrown out by planners. However, when this decision was appealed the Local Review Body approved the application by three votes to two.