A REJECTED wind farm proposal near Ashkirk could be overturned as an appeal goes before the Scottish Government.  

In September, plans for an £8m wind farm at Barrel Law were rejected by Scottish Borders councillors.

The proposal would have seen seven turbines, of up to 132m in height, erected on land to the north-west of Roberton, near Hawick.

The company behind the plans, Germany-based ABO Wind, has now submitted an appeal to the planning and environmental appeals division of the Scottish Government.

A statement from ABO Wind said: “The planning application complied with all relevant technical and planning requirements and did not have any objections from statutory agencies, including the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Historic Environment Scotland and the Ministry of Defence.

“The application was refused on the grounds of landscape and visual impact, though neither Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Government’s landscape advisor, nor the council’s own landscape adviser recommended an objection.

“The development site is located within an area identified by the council’s local development plan as having the ‘highest capacity’ for a wind turbine development.”

The company faced fierce opposition from local residents, community councils and Scottish Borders councillors, ever since it first unveiled its intention to build a wind farm on the site in 2012.

A rejection soon followed, and stemmed from concerns voiced by the Ministry of Defence over possible interference with the radar systems at RAF Spadeadam, near Brampton.

The plans were subsequently revised and reduced from eight turbines to seven, with the MoD withdrawing its objections, and officers from Scottish Borders Council’s planning department recommending the revised plans for approval.

However, the council’s planning and building standards committee threw out the proposals at a meeting in September.

A report put to the committee found that 75 comments had been submitted to Scottish Borders Council regarding the project, and all but one of those were objections.

The council also received objections from six community councils that would be within sight of the wind farm, and Hawick councillors David Paterson and Watson McAteer also voiced their objections.

The latter wrote to his fellow councillors, imploring them to reject the wind farm: “This application is a test and should this authority grant the application it is in danger of sending a signal to all developers that rejection is simply a temporary set back and that after some fine tuning reapplication is likely to be successful.

“This approach is debilitating for fragile communities who are being worn down by commercial enterprises that bring financial muscle to a process destined to create over proliferation, landscape desecration and wind turbine blight to a naturally beautiful area of the Borders.

“Members, those I represent can see no valid reason why the previous rejection is not equally valid today and it is your responsibility to ensure that this community is listened to.

“It is quite ridiculous that those who live and nurture this area are once again being called to fight to protect a precious environment, that includes a perilous roads network, from a profit centred business who have no interest in the affect their development will have on such a historic rural community.”

Officers from the Scottish Government’s planning department will now conduct a site visit at Barrel Law, before notifying the council whether they have overturned the local authority’s decision.