TWO weeks ago I walked from the Scottish Border up to Edinburgh and the undoubted highlight of the route was the marvellous traverse of the high ridge between the Three Brethren and the Minchmoor, just north of Galashiels. Now some money-grabbing developers want to build wind turbines on the ridge, on the line of the Southern Uplands Way.
Campaigners recently climbed onto the ridge to mount a protest over the plans to build a wind farm next to the country’s only coast to coast footpath.
Hill walkers, horse riders and mountain bikers from Selkirk, Yarrowford, Clovenfords and Walkerburn met at the Three Brethren on the Southern Upland Way, above Yair Forest, last Sunday.
They fear the construction of 12 wind turbines at the historic Minchmoor and eight wind turbines at Broadmeadows, close to Scotland’s very first Youth Hostel, will scar the typical Borders landscape, which has inspired some of the world’s best-known writers, such as Sir Walter Scott, and deter generations of outdoor enthusiasts from visiting the area.
Community councillor Stuart Bell, from Clovenfords, who organised the hill-top meeting, said: “Not only will turbines be visible from our towns and villages, but the Southern Upland Way, with turbines along this section, will no longer be a tranquil upland route and the spectacular open view west from the Three Brethren will be gone, at least for our lifetime.”
The protest was organised following the announcement that the Scottish Government Reporter appointed to consider plans by Swedish energy giant Vattenfall to build a wind farm on Minchmoor, which were originally rejected by Scottish Borders Council, has decided not to hold a Public Inquiry and instead base his decision on written submissions. And objectors are concerned that their voice will not now be heard.
Meanwhile, it is understood GreenPower, the Alloa-based company seeking permission for the Broadmeadows project, is expected to be heard by the local authority’s planning committee within weeks.
Mr Bell said: “We expect decisions to be made in the next few months on both these proposals.”
But he added: “Unlike many of the other appeal decisions on wind farms over the past few years, local communities feel they will have no opportunity to present their concerns in a face-to-face meeting with the Reporter at a Public Inquiry on Minchmoor.”
The campaigners claimed up to 100 turbines could already be seen from the Three Brethren and they argued the area should be protected from further development.
Mr Bell said: “The Southern Upland Way is identified by Scottish Borders Council as one of only seven strategic pathways meriting particular protection from the cumulative impact of wind-farm developments.
“An iconic high point on this remote route is the viewpoint of the three Brethren, around which SBC has proposed there should be a buffer area to protect the beauty and tranquility of this section of the Southern Upland Way from the intrusion of wind turbines.”
When this cash-for-wind scam started at least developers tried to be fairly circumspect where they built their turbines. Today It appears anything goes and my guess is that it won’t be long before we see them in our National Parks.