THE developer of two windfarms near Langholm wants to increase the heights of the turbines and add an extra turbine to each site.
Having received consent for the 12 turbines at Hopsrig and eight at Loganhead in 2019, Muirhall Energy is looking to raise the tip heights to 200m for all the turbines and introduce an extra turbine to each site, bringing the generating capacity for each windfarm to more than 50MW.
This takes the threshold for applications out of the jurisdiction of Dumfries and Galloway Council and means the Scottish government’s Energy Consents Unit will consider the proposals.
Muirhall has begun scoping on the two Section 36 applications to vary the planning consents for the windfarms which are next to its project at Crossdykes near Lockerbie, already under construction.
The company has also announced its intention to increase the annual community benefit payment from £5,000 to £7,000 for every MegaWatt of capacity.
Combined with the use of more powerful turbines, the total funds on offer to organisations in the area would jump from £300,000 to £900,000 each year.
Chris Walker, managing director, said: “The new Hopsrig and Loganhead proposals are a natural progression after the establishment of Crossdykes.
“Muirhall is excited to maximise the renewables potential of this area for landowners, the communities and as a further contribution towards achieving the net zero carbon economy which is so crucial for us all.”
Jason Morin, project manager, added: “Muirhall Energy has formed a positive relationship with many residents and organisations in Annandale and Eskdale after the construction of our Crossdykes development.
“Our investment in this community is making a real difference to residents, initiatives and projects such as through our £100,000 Crossdykes Initial Investment Fund last year.
“With the proposed use of next generation turbine technology and the strong community ethos of our company, we will increase the community benefit to an industry-leading £7,000 a megawatt, instead of the industry standard £5,000.
“This offers communities the potential to benefit from £900,000 a year across the two projects.
“This is an exciting time for all involved and we look forward to building on our strong community relationships as we work to deliver these projects.”
John Galloway, chairman of Langholm, Ewes and Westerkirk community council, said: “This was advised, I believe, in February that Muirhall intended to alter this development when Jason Morin attended our meeting.
“To my knowledge, there were no concerns raised but the community council will review the full documents for planning purposes and advise on this in due course.”
The Energy Consents Unit is also dealing with an application by Community Windpower to build a windfarm with 45 turbines which will stretch from Ewes to Teviothead and across to Bentpath.
Forty of the turbines will be 200m high and five 178m high.
The application has attracted a lot of opposition, including a community group based in Ewes and some statutory consultees, notably the Ministry of Defence.
Its concerns centre on the Eskdalemuir seismological monitoring station and the threat radar operated from RAF Spadeadam.
Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Borders Council are still considering their responses, having asked for extensions.
A Scottish Borders Council spokesperson said: “The application was intended to be considered at December’s planning and building standards committee but we have sought an extension from the Energy Consents Unit to allow officers more time to consider key issues before completing our recommendation to the committee.
“The application is expected to progress for consideration to the committee in early 2021.”