THE DECISION to approve a wind turbine application on appeal has been labelled “a disgrace” by a community council in Berwickshire.
Cockburnspath Community Council says it will lodge an official complaint to Scottish Borders Council about the proceedure used to uphold an appeal.
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. After energy company Wind Direct Ltd appealed the decision, Scottish Borders Council’s Local Review Body also rejected it.
Wind Direct submitted a new application, this time for 110m-high turbines. It was also thrown out by planners. But when it was appealed again, the Local Review Body, made up of five councillors, approved the application by three votes to two, meaning the turbines can now be erected.
The only Berwickshire councillor on the Local Review Body was Councillor Jim Fullarton. He voted to refuse the application and said: “I echo the dismay of the local community.” Intimating that the decision showed “inexperience”, Councillor Fullarton added: “The key thing was how it stood beside the three turbines at Hoprig, and the only way to determine that was for a site visit and look at the view points. But the other members of the review body wouldn’t agree.”
With no means of appealing the decision other than by way of expensive judicial review, Cockburnspath Community Council has issued a statement.
It reads: “The community council has since learned that the basis for the decision to approve was based on the benefits to the local business of Kinegar Quarry/Neuk Farm. According to the planning application they will consume only 6% of the generated electricity from these turbines. If the site owners had applied for much smaller turbines, designed to actually run their operations and make a little profit, there may have been no objection from the local community. However, the excess energy produced by these commercial turbines is a clear indication of the commercial, and not local, economics of this application.
“The LRB decision is a disgrace and is not how we expect elected members to represent us. Cockburnspath’s community will not let this decision lie. It will fight in every practicable way in the hope that common sense, and the views of local people, cannot be so easily disregarded.
“The community council held an emergency public meeting and a vote to complain to SBC regarding the process behind the LRB decision was unanimous.
“The Local Review Body has failed us on a number of counts: consistency with planning policy; illconceived reliance on “economic benefits” arguments; the refusal of an offer to visit the site.
“This is an issue of local democracy.”