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Community | 3rd June 2021

Fragile Community faces more Turbines


NEWCASTLETON community council has responded to a proposal for a windfarm of 75 turbines, citing the fragility of its community from such a massive development.

The council hosted a talk by project manager, Jamie Leslie, of Muirhall Energy at its May meeting, during which he outlined the project at Teviothead and the potential for community benefit funding.

He was joined by Graham Kerr, head of planning at Muirhall.

Mr Leslie said the fund was set at £7,000 per megawatt, totalling £3.6m a year to be distributed among 12 communities.

There was also the potential for up to 10 per cent community ownership and there would be a £500,000 initial investment fund, available during the construction phase.

The company had installed fibre broadband for households as part of the Crossdykes development near Lockerbie.

Mr Leslie said the windfarm would be 12.5km from the village and they would probably be able to see blade tips.

He said: “I know Newcastleton has done some really exciting things and we really care about our communities.

“We’re opening an office in the old post office in Hawick and we’re really pleased to have a presence in the Borders.

“The windfarm would create hundreds of jobs during construction and about 40 during its operation.

“We enjoy working with local contractors. Often, they are the best.

“We have a partnership with Borders College in Hawick to help train and retain engineers and technicians.

“There will be reduced energy costs for people living near the windfarm. We’re becoming Ofgem accredited so we can distribute energy. We will commit to basing this new business in Hawick.”

He also said they were committed to enhancing the environment and would help to protect and preserve indigenous bird, animal and plant life.

He added: “We’ll create a corridor for black grouse from the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, reinstate lost native woodlands and degraded peatlands and plant on river edges to prevent flooding.”

Muirhall has submitted a scoping report as part of the planning process and was receiving comments from consultees.

The turbine heights ranged from 180m to 220m at the blade tip and Mr Leslie said: “With technology advancing and the removal of subsidies, they have to be higher.”

Barbara Elborn, secretary, raised concerns about transport during construction.

Whenever there was an issue with the A7, there was an impact on the village from diverted traffic.

They had two school runs: one to Langholm and another to Hawick.

Mr Kerr said information on transport was fairly limited during the scoping process but they were looking at coming through Hawick and using the A7 and forestry roads.

Lee Musson asked about the watershed.

Mr Leslie said almost all the water drained into the Teviot Water, with small amounts into the Esk and the Liddel.

In its written response the council said the community needed to understand the combined impact of all the proposed developments- Wauchope East, Wauchope West, Newcastleton and Cliffhope in its immediate and wider environments.

It said: “Newcastleton suffered serious flooding in 2005, 2020 and 2021, resulting from the combined impact of surface water run-off and rising river levels.

“Flood events have caused significant damage to infrastructure (communications, bridges and roads) as well as residential and business premises.

“This proposal indicates large areas of forestation will be felled to accommodate the site.

“The council seeks detailed assessment of how this development will have an impact in this regard and what measures are being included to offset this imbalance environmentally so felling does not increase water flow, resulting in significant worsening levels.”

Langholm, Ewes and Westerkirk community council is also within the windfarm’s catchment area.

Mr Leslie told the E&L Advertiser said he had corresponded by email with chairman John Galloway and he was keen to push for a meeting, similar to the one he’d had with Newcastleton.

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