OUTDOOR campaigners have hit out at the Scottish Government for giving the go ahead to a controversial wind farm near Tweedsmuir.

Scottish Borders Council twice rejected the plans to erect 14 turbines on an 820-hectare site at Whitelaw Brae.

But government reporters David Buylla and Claire Milne have overruled the opposition to the bid, granting the 2020 Renewables project planning permission.

And Mountaineering Scotland believe creating the wind farm will damage local tourism.

CEO David Gibson said: “At a time when the Scottish Government is holding a public consultation about the future of planning policy, this decision demonstrates what is wrong about planning democracy in Scotland. The decision also completely ignores the negative impact the development will have on the local tourism industry.

“We’re disappointed, but not surprised, that our own research into tourism impacts has been ignored consistently by developers and those who run the planning system in Scotland. 

“But even the research promoted by the renewables industry itself now demonstrates that wind farms negatively impact tourism employment in mountain areas.”

The application drew 84 objections, including those from Mountaineering Scotland and Scottish Borders Council, which was treated purely as a consultee in the process due to the wind farm generating capacity of over 50MW.

Tweeddale MP David Mundell also slammed the Scottish Government’s decision.

He said: “I am very angry that the Whitelaw Brae wind farm has been given the green light by the Scottish Government near Tweedsmuir.

“Local people and the local authority were united in their opposition to this major development but once again, the Scottish Government has chosen to ignore the views of people living there, with their we know best attitude.

“My position on wind farm developments is clear in my constituency; enough is enough.”

A spokesperson for Rural Economy, Environment and Connectivity at Holyrood defended the government’s decision. 

He said: “Wind and other renewable sources play a vital part in meeting Scotland’s energy needs, and will continue to do so as we move to a low carbon energy future.

“But we also have clear policies which make sure that developments only go ahead in the right places.

“The application for the Whitelaw Brae wind farm was subject to a public local inquiry which considered all potential impacts including tourism. Ministers gave careful consideration and agreed to the reporters’ recommendations to grant consent with conditions.”