An application to build a large wind farm in the upper Tweed Valley should be rejected by planners, according to the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, because it would 'cause significant and unacceptable impact to the only Wild Land Area in south east Scotland'.
The company Whitelaw Brae Windfarm Ltd (2020 Renewables) has applied for planning permission to build 14 wind turbines, each over 130 metres (over 400 feet) to the blade tip, on an open hillside above the upper Tweed Valley, roughly 5km from the summit of Hart Fell. The site is within the Tweedsmuir Uplands Special Landscape Area and adjacent to a nationally defined Wild Land Area.
The MCofS say that development here would have a 'severe impact' on the landscape, and harm tourism in the area.
MCofS Chief Officer David Gibson said:
'This is a popular and easily accessed area, important as a recreational and tourism asset, and unparalleled south of the Highlands. The site is in an area designated by Scottish Borders Council for its landscape beauty, which is intended to protect it against development that could have a significant adverse landscape impact.'
In their planning objection the MCofS argue that a wind farm on Whitelaw Brae would be contrary to the planning intention of Scottish Borders Council to protect the local landscape.
And it would, they say, have a significant cumulative impact by pushing development across the Tweed, much closer to the core wild hills than the many existing and consented wind farm developments in the area.
'If consented the development would cause significant and unacceptable impact to the only Wild Land Area in south east Scotland and harm the landscape setting of the Corbetts and other high ground of the popular Tweedsmuir Hills' said David Gibson.
'This, at a time when the total renewables capacity required to meet the Scottish Government’s electricity generation target for 2020 (estimated at 14-16 GW) is already consented (15.8 GW at December 2014). Despite its massive visual intrusion, the development would only have a very small effect on renewable electricity generation and an even smaller effect on Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions.'