THE risk of flooding to homes, roads, businesses and farms in the Ewes valley and downstream in Langholm has been highlighted by a group fighting a proposed windfarm.
The Faw Side Community Group (FSCG) says that the extraction of peat to build the turbine bases, the construction of roads across the hills, the blasting of 10 borrow pits and the building of two sub-stations will produce large areas of hard surfaces and water will run down the steep hillsides in greater amounts.
The windfarm is being proposed by Community Windpower and comprises 45 turbines stretching from Ewes to Teviothead and across to Bentpath.
It is, so far, the largest onshore windfarm proposed for the UK, being made up of 40 turbines 200m high and five turbines 178m high.
Community Windpower held three exhibitions, one each in Ewes, Bentpath and Langholm, but people were left disappointed and angry that there were no visualisations or other information.
Tim Hollins, project manager for Faw Side, said this week that he expected the planning application to be submitted at the end of May but he did not have a definite date.
A written update would be given to Langholm, Ewes and Westerkirk community council at their meeting next week and he planned to attend the June meeting. He was also considering holding another public exhibition if it was considered useful.
He said: “We have got all the reports and will have time to refine them before the application goes in and then they’ll become publicly available.”
John Kane, who owns a trout farm on land at Hoghill is very worried about his business.
His main concern is the run-off from the hill once the peat has been disturbed and the water goes dirty. This would change the Ph level and this could kill the fish and other aquatic life in the river if it got too high.
Mr Kane said: “If they clear peat off in large amounts, there will be an influx of dirty water. You can see that water will run off that hill.
“It will affect the line fishing as well. It can pretty well destroy the whole eco-system in the river. I would need to provide evidence that something like this could happen.”
Langholm has been identified by Dumfries and Galloway Council as a Potentially Vulnerable Area and a flood protection scheme is being developed.
At a meeting today RPS Consultants will present their findings to the council and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, councillors and community councillors.
The FSCG is concerned to know what measures Community Windpower will put in place to mitigate run-off and flooding which would be caused by the windfarm.
A spokesperson said: “Our experience is that water comes straight down off the hill and farmers have to keep their drains and ditches in good condition to help prevent flooding.
“When you go to insurance companies to insure your house, they say you’re in a flood risk area. Will Community Windpower’s drainage be suitable for the terrain up there. The drains on the A7 struggle already.”
They are also worried about contamination of private water supplies. About 30 properties north of Ewes hall have their own water supplies.
In November 2017 construction of a windfarm at Sneddon Law in East Ayrshire by Community Windpower was stopped by the council after people complained their water was being polluted.
A Scottish government planning reporter allowed the company’s appeal but said fully operational water supplies would have to be in place before work could begin.
FSCG also says it is ironic that the Scottish government is giving grants to farmers to restore peatlands because it stores carbon dioxide and water.
Another concern they have is that the cement for the turbine bases will be porous which will allow the lime to seep through and it could find its way into the water.
The group wants to make everyone aware of the proposal and encourage them to object.
The planning application will be handled by the government’s Energy Consent Unit and not by the councils themselves.