Concerns over region's wind turbine capacity

Concern has been raised that a government drive to push further onshore wind developments will prove a ‘significant ask’ for the Borders.

By Paul Kelly
Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 4:48 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 4:48 pm

The Scottish government sees onshore wind as having a vital role in delivering its net zero and climate change targets by 2030.

It has launched a consultation which cites its ambition for an additional eight to 12 Gigawatts – in the region of 200 new schemes – to be installed by that date.

A large proportion of that target would need to be generated in the Borders, which has already seen 550 wind turbine schemes given the go-ahead.

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Crystal Rig windfarm in the Lammermuir Hills.

A report presented to Scottish Borders Councillors last Thursday, highlighted concerns about the capacity of the region’s landscape to absorb further development on the scale proposed – without it resulting in a significant environmental impact.

The authority acknowledges the need for net zero targets but says scrutiny is needed to put the ‘right turbine in the right place’ and that the importance of protecting the landscape and the environment must be given appropriate weight.

Developments which do go ahead also need to provide the maximum economic and social benefits to communities, the council’s response adds.

Simon Mountford, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for enhancing the built environment and natural heritage, said the government’s aims represented a “very ambitious onshore wind strategy”.

He said: “In the Borders we have already approved 550 wind turbines with an estimated total generated capacity of more than 900 Megawatts. The reality is that many, if not most, of the best sites have already been developed, and that’s not including a number of sites that we opposed, but which were subsequently approved.

“As a council we have a robust policy on renewable energy based on the principle of the ‘right development in the right place’. Renewables make a vital contribution to our energy mix – but their development must not jeopardise the Borders high quality environment and landscape.”

Cllr Euan Robson said: “The onshore wind policy statement talks about additional capacity of eight to 12 Gigawatts, so we are looking at possibly another 200 schemes. The concern is that the Borders is going to be asked to take far too many.”