AN action group fighting proposals for two wind farms near Belford has highlighted the “stark” contrast between neighbouring authorities’ planning guidance on windfarm setback.
The Middleton Burn Action Group (MBAG), which is opposing developments at Middleton Burn and Belford Burn, says there is a significant difference between Scottish Borders and Northumberland County Council’s separation guidelines.
A minimum of 2km between wind turbines and homes and businesses is given as guidance in the Borders, compared with a distance of six times the height of the turbine cited in the proposed Northumberland Core Strategy.
MGAB chair Chris Craddock said: “The contrast between Scottish Borders Council’s 2km guidance and the limits contained in the proposed Northumberland Core Strategy are stark.
“That document is suggesting a mere six times turbine height as an appropriate separation, which equates to only 600m for the threatened Belford Burn development and 750m for the Middleton Burn proposal. In both cases this would be wholly inadequate to protect residents from unacceptable damage to visual amenity and other nuisance imposed by turbines. Two km seems to us to be a much more reasonable separation distance.”
His comments come as action groups from across the Scottish Borders are calling for the current 2km guideline there to be made compulsory.
The new Borders-wide network, formed last month, has warned that unless drastic action is taken to halt turbine creep from the hills, hundreds of new turbines could soon ruin the region’s biggest asset - its landscape and its tourist industry.
David Walmsley, chairman of Minto Hills Conservation Group, which is a member of the new Borders-wide wind alliance, said: “The 2km minimum is routinely ignored by developers and Reporters at appeal but at least it is already embedded in SBC’s spatial planning guidance (SPG).
“Two kilometres should be seen as the absolute minimum distance because it does not take account of the sheer size of the turbines now being proposed – many of them dwarfing earlier models - and the potential adverse health impact on human and animal welfare.
“As the first duty of any government is to protect its people, our members believe that the 2km minimum setback distance should be made mandatory to take account of Scotland’s scattered homes and settlements – not just towns and villages.”
Although the Middleton Burn Action Group is not formally part of the network north of the Border, Mr Craddock said it was in touch with action groups in Scotland.
“We share their concerns and support their struggle to be free of the curse of inappropriate and oppressive industrial wind turbine developments,” he added.
The Middleton Burn Action Group is due to hold its AGM tomorrow (Friday, February 15) in the Bell View Centre at 7.30pm.