Developer proposes to construct a windfarm in Meggat Valley
A WINDFARM of up to 20 turbines is proposed for a remote valley near Bentpath.
Oakridge Energy has submitted a scoping report to the Scottish government’s Energy and Consents Unit for consent to develop Westerkirk windfarm.
The proposal is for up to 20 turbines up to 220m high and the site is about 2km from Bentpath, 4km from Eskdalemuir and 10km from Langholm.
Currently, the site is owned by two landowners, Ian Morris of Westerkirk Mains and Hamish Waugh of Effgill, and largely comprises moorland.
The development will also include infrastructure, battery storage and ancillary services infrastructure.
It will have a generating capacity of more than 50MW which is why the planning application will be determined by Scottish ministers and not Dumfries and Galloway Council.
The applicant, in its report, said the project was at the very early stage, with only limited assessments undertaken to date so the turbine dimensions and the installed capacity was uncertain at the moment.
The scoping report, which can be found on the ECU’s website, covers landscape and visual impact; hydrology, hydrogeology, geology and soils; ecology; ornithology; noise; cultural heritage; access, traffic and transport; and socioeconomics, tourism and recreation.
The area is classed as “very remote rural” by the government and is designated as an area with a population of fewer than 3,000 and a drive time of more than 60 minutes to a settlement of 10,000 or more.
There are no residential properties within the site but there are eight properties nearby.
The company predicts the main access to the site will likely use the A7, the B709 and onto the proposed windfarm.
Further assessments will determine the exact locations for the exit of the road onto the site. Existing forestry tracks will be used on site, where possible, to minimise disruption.
It is an upland landscape which incorporates parts of Westerker Rig, Hog Hill, Effgill Hill, Mid Hill, Hoggle Rig, Megdale Hill, Grey Hill and Munshiel Hill.
There are four Scheduled Monuments on the site as well as a number of known Historic Environment Records.
These settlements, homesteads and possible farmsteads are Stennieswaterfoot homestead and enclosure; Stennieswaterfoot settlement; Effgill settlement and field system; and Glenkeil Hill settlement and field system.
Hamish Waugh, who farms at Effgill, said he would have half of the proposed turbines on his land, the other half being sited on Westerkirk Mains land.
He was introduced to the company’s representative through Mr Morris.
Hamish said: “Whether it will go ahead, I have my doubts, to be honest. I’ve seen the drawings and I’m not sure there will be as many as 20 turbines if it does proceed. I think there would probably be a couple taken off.”
He said he was not against wind energy.
He added: “When my partner, Fiona, and I got together, she lived by the Newcastle railway line and coal trains passed through on their way to power stations. Now, there are none.
“When we switch on a light or whatever it happens to be, we have to be responsible for our actions.
“I know the UK government seems to be keen on pushing nuclear power but I’m very much aware that we’re leaving a legacy for many future generations to deal with so I’m not desperately in favour of nuclear energy.
“I see wind power as a good solution. The only other alternative is to dam rivers and have hydro-electricity and I’m not sure how that would work.
“We’re very much aware of the close proximity of the Eskdalemuir seismological monitoring station and its noise budget.
“With so many other windfarms on the go at the moment, I think this one is rather doubtful.
“But I wanted to explore the possibilities as food production gets cheaper and cheaper all the time.
“When we first came here, if we sold two lambs, it was enough to pay a shepherd for a week.
“Today, we still haven’t quite got to £60 for a store lamb so you can imagine how many extra lambs it would take, even if I could afford a shepherd.
“With Brexit and trade tariffs, which will push down the price of sheep, if we carry on farming here, we have to look at an alternative or plant the whole valley with trees, which would be a disaster.
“The Scottish government is handing out money to plant trees but it’s not a fix.”