Objection to Crystal Rig wind farm extension

Scottish Borders Council is to notify the Scottish Government it objects to proposed new wind turbines at Crystal Rig Wind Farm, in the Lammermuir Hills.

Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 13:29 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 13:35 pm
A view towards Crystal Rig.

Fred Olsen Renewables, a subsidiary of Oslo-based Bonheur ASA, wants to add 11 more turbines at Crystal Rig, bringing the total number of turbines to 102.

The turbines would be at least 149m tall, with several measuring 200m, and red aviation lights would need to be fitted to seven of the taller turbines for safety.

Councillors on Scottish Borders Council’s planning committee were asked to provide a response to the Scottish Government, which is also seeking the opinion of East Lothian Council.

Due to the impact of the lights on the visual amenity of the area at night, planning officers recommended formally object to the plans.

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Outlining the recommendation to councillors, the local authority’s principal planning officer Barry Fotheringham said: “Seven of the eleven turbines are required to be fitted with civil aviation warning lights. This lighting would introduce a new landscape and visual element which does not exist at this windfarm.

“The adverse visual impacts caused by turbine lighting has the potential to affect the experience of a number of people travelling on roads and paths with the eastern and across to the central Borders when a cluster of industrial red lights would appear in elevated positions which would detract the visual amenities of the otherwise dark rural setting.

“Supplementary information does set out mitigation which can be applied to the turbine lighting, however compelling evidence has not been provided to demonstrate that the impact of turbine lighting can be reduced to a tolerable level.

“The merits of the application have been considered against relevant provisions of the development plan and the requirements of the Electricity Act, and the demonstrable harm caused by the introduction of turbine lighting is considered to outweigh the benefits this scheme may bring.”

Kelso and District councillor Simon Mountford said: “Putting in 200m turbines is going to affect the visual amenity of the area.

“Because the principal of wind turbines on the site has already been established, the only thing we can really object to is the aviation lights, which will transform the night-time landscape into an industrial landscape which is unacceptable.”

Galashiels and District councillor Sandy Aitchison told the committee: “It seems to me that if the turbines were lowered, then they wouldn’t need the aviation lights.

“It is the height, and therefore the lights, that is the issue. If this came before us without the lights we would be more sympathetic to the application.”

Councillors were in broad agreement with the officers, with the exception of East Berwickshire councillor Hele Laing, who added: “It’s not ideal that we’ve got these aviation lights in the night sky, but it’s a price to pay for meeting our renewable energy targets.”

Councillor Laing was outvoted by the rest of the committee and the objection of the council will be passed onto the Scottish Government, where ministers will decide on the outcome of the application.