Winds of discontent in anti-wind farm group

The Borders Network Conservation Groups formed to protect tranquil landscapes such as the hills around the Whiteadder Reservoir.
The Borders Network Conservation Groups formed to protect tranquil landscapes such as the hills around the Whiteadder Reservoir.

The recently formed Borders Network of Conservation Groups stands accused of being “undemocratic and clandestine” by a Coldingham man who was there from the start.

Conservation groups from across the Borders joined forces to form the new network in order to protect the area’s landscape, particularly although not solely, from wind farms. However, less than two months on a split seems to have appeared amongst those involved.

George Matthews, a retired Scottish Office chief building standards advisor and vehement opponent of the Drone Hill wind farm on Coldingham Moor, attended the first meeting of the Borders wide group but was unaware of further meetings when an executive was formed.

He is now challenging the group’s claim to represent the Borders area when they have not consulted “all the people that were initially involved”.

Asking who elected the wind farm executive group, Mr Matthews said: “I was the Coldingham representative and suddenly without any discussion I am no longer required at Borders Network meetings.

“Is this a matter of east Berwickshire being left out again?”

A Borders Network spokesperson replied: “As a Borders-wide organisation we are stepping up the campaign to safeguard the enormous value that the Borders landscape brings to the area’s economy, culture, recreation and ecology.

“We have already engaged constructively with elected members and officials of both national and local government, and improved communication and cooperation between our member groups. Membership is open to groups and individuals who are interested in helping the network fulfil its purpose and achieve its aims, and who are willing to abide by these and the rules of the network.

“Our executive group is not intended to have geographical cover but it so happens that we do appear to have pretty good coverage of the Borders, including east Berwickshire.

Mr Matthews responded: “It is my opinion due to the undemocratic, secret, clandestine way in which the so called ‘Borders Network’ has been set up it does not represent the people of the Borders. I am also unhappy with the lack of progress and time it has taken to commence the fight against the Borders wind farms.

“Given the lack of urgency one would be justified in thinking that the group has a hidden agenda and may even represent the wind farm developers.”

However, chair of the Borders Network, John Williams, said: “ The biggest threat is coming from the rush to erect as many wind farms as possible before subsidies are reduced in 2017. Developers appear to have no concern for the devastating effect that increasing numbers of ever-larger wind turbines have on our landscape.”