THE company proposing to build a massive windfarm in the Ewes and Esk valleys will return to Langholm for a public consultation next Thursday.
Cheshire-based Community Windpower Ltd has submitted a plan to the Scottish government’s energy consents unit for 45 turbines at Faw Side.
Forty of these will be 200m high and five 178m high and they would be the highest onshore turbines in the UK.
The application is one the energy consents unit website and contains a massive 219 documents. A hard copy is in Langholm town hall.
A group was set up in Ewes to campaign against the windfarm. Members are concerned that it will destroy the natural beauty of the landscape, which is in a Region Scenic Area and have a negative impact on the business sector, particularly on tourism, a sector currently focused on regeneration investment.
There is the potential to increase the risk of flooding from the removal of a significant amount of peat which retains rainwater and carbon.
The group believes Faw Side is “an unwanted industrialisation of a treasured rural environment, steeped in historical significance”.
Faw Side Community Group held a public drop-in at the Buccleuch Centre in Langholm last Sunday and a good turnout of people viewed the plans and asked questions.
Yvonne Jackson, group spokeswoman, said people had until July 8 to comment on the plan and it was important that their voices were heard. The group has letters available for anyone who would like to sign one and send it to the energy consents unit.
Philip Kerr of Southdean, Teviothead, has experience of opposing windfarms in his area and spoke during the consultation.
He said the biggest issue at Faw Side would be the seismological array at Eskdalemuir. That discussion would go on for some time.
Current planned developments were far too big for the “noise budget” set by the Ministry of Defence, which ran the operation at Eskdalemuir and they were in a queue while talks went on between developers and the Scottish government on how to unlock this issue.
Yvonne added: “It’s important we keep talking to each other to learn from each other’s experiences and about where our energy will come from in the future.
“The Scottish government is becoming more keen on community developments.
“It will be a marathon, not a sprint so it’s important we’re kept informed and that’s the point of this meeting.”
Members of the public questioned the viability of windfarms surviving without subsidies, which had been withdrawn, and asked whether the two local authorities could ask for a public inquiry.
Mr Kerr said that if they objected, it would probably go to a public inquiry.
Everyone felt very strongly that the company should come back to Langholm for a public meeting so people could ask questions.
They thought Community Windpower was being “pretty secretive” about what it was proposing compared with other windfarm developers they had experience of.
They wanted to know how Langholm and Eskdale would benefit.
Roy Harling, who lives in George Street, was concerned about the potential for flooding.
Dumfries and Galloway Council has commissioned consultants RPS to design a flood protection scheme for the town which has been identified by the Scottish government as a Potentially Vulnerable Area.
Mr Harling has contacted RPS to raise his concerns and they were unaware of the application.
He said: “I spoke to the woman in charge of the scheme and her first reaction was that this windfarm could have a significant influence on their results. They’ve been working on the scheme for months.
“I told her that large amounts of peat would have to be removed from the hilltops along the Esk and Ewes.”