Why Oppose Blackmains

Why Oppose Blackmains……Because this proposal runs contrary to many of the guidelines laid down by Scottish Borders Council (SBC) for the development of wind farms.

TOO CLOSE TO COMMUNITIES: The Blackmains development proposes seven 125 metre high wind turbines within 800 metres of residential properties in Whitfield, Cairncross, Reston and Littledean. At 700/750 metres from these communities, the developers are flouting Scottish Borders Council guidelines which recommend 2 km (1.25 miles) separation from residential properties and communities. Scottish Borders Council’s own Strategic Planning Guidance (SPG) published in May 2011 clearly states: “Para 90 of the Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) refers to guideline separation distances of up to 2km between areas of search for groups of wind turbines and any community receptors, including cities, towns and villages. There would be an initial presumption against any turbines within this distance from any residence, unless an applicant can confirm factors such as scales location and intervening landform can allow support. Even if there are no principal rooms from houses looking towards a proposed turbine, the extent of the garden ground and curtilage should be a material consideration. There are 18 houses within 750 metres of the site at Cairncross, Whitfield and near Littledean. Some properties just south of the A1 look to be 600 metres from Turbine Number One. Within 1000 metres there are 109 houses. The northern outskirts of Reston sit at 700 metres from Turbine Number One. The centre of Reston is only 800 metres from Turbine Number One. Within 2000 metres there are 388 houses which includes the rest of Reston, the whole of Ayton, Linthill, Alemill, Huldies Park, Gallows Law, Bee Edge, Whitecross Horn Burn and Restonhill.

TOO MANY WINDFARMS IN THE BORDERS: The Scottish Borders Council SPG states “that developments should be environmentally acceptable and should not create unacceptable cumulative impact”. There are over 400 wind turbines in the Borders and over 2/3rds are in Berwickshire. Within a 15 mile radius of Blackmains there is a total of 125 wind turbines either already built or being built, live planning applications or are at the scoping stage. For the current status of wind farm developments check out www.windbyte.co.uk/sites.html#borders In the same SPG Scottish Borders Council acknowledge their concern on the number of wind farm developments and proposals. In point 3.5 it (SPG) states that “the potential number of approvals in the Scottish Borders is disproportionate to the capacity of the landscape to absorb such developments and if these proposals were to materialise they would have an adverse cumulative impact on the Borders landscape and its tourism value.” Furthermore it notes that in the consultation response from the Scottish Government “there may be limited scope for wind farms above 20 MW within the Borders.”

TOO CLOSE TO THE A1: The proximity of this development to the A1 goes against the SPG which states that there should be 2km buffer zones from main roads.

NOISE: SPG clearly states that proposals for wind energy developments will be assessed against the impact of noise on residential and other noise sensitive developments. On Enertrag’s website that promotes the Blackmains development, it denies that infrasound is a problem. It says: “Commenting to Renewable UK in response to concerns that wind turbines emit infrasound and cause associated health problems, Dr Geoff Leventhall, Consultant in Noise Vibration and Acoustics and author of the Defra Report on Low Frequency Noise and its Effects, said: “I can state quite categorically that there is no significant infrasound from current designs of wind turbines. To say that there is an infrasound problem is one of the hares which objectors to wind farms like to run. There will not be any effects from infrasound from the turbines (Renewable UK, 22 October 2010). However an article in the Sunday Telegraph (20 November 2011), quotes a report written by environmental health consultants, who work on behalf of the wind energy industry, and stated that noise from turbines was “associated with some reported health effects.” (Published in the Journal of Environmental Health.) A report from Canada published in the Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society found that three quarters of people living near wind farms had reported increased levels of stress since turbines were installed. The article also quotes Dr Lee Moroney, the planning director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, which is critical of the expansion of wind farms, “The industry has been in denial about the misery that turbine noise causes near neighbours. Distances between turbines and dwellings need to be significantly greater than many developers propose and noise conditions improved.”

In the same article The Sunday Telegraph reported that wind turbines are being turned off because in high wind they become too loud. Dossiers from Local Authorities about noise pollution complaints show that operators have agreed to turn off machines or reduce their speeds when wind speeds are too high. This happened at a 12 turbine wind farm on a former RAF base in Lisset near Bridlington, East Yorkshire, at another wind farm in Skelmonae, Aberdeenshire and at one wind farm near Harrogate, North Yorkshire where the noise was so loud it was served with a noise abatement notice.
Of more concern, residents near large sites claim that noise can be heard up to 3 miles away. If noise can be heard up to 3 miles away then up to 2500 residents in Reston, Ayton, Eyemouth, Coldingham and St Abbs could be affected.

VISUAL IMPACT:  Enertrag has admitted, at a recent Public Inquiry concerning 125-metre turbines, that there would be significant visual impact at up to 10 km.  The SPG clearly states that its assessment criteria for proposals for wind farms include a significantly increased risk of “shadow flicker” or driver distraction.

  • So if you live within 750 metres?  The visual impact will be overwhelming.  You will also be likely to suffer from noise pollution and flicker.
  • What about 1000 metres away?  You may suffer less from noise but that could be dependent on wind direction.  Flicker could be an issue particularly when there is low winter sun when driving on the A1.  Visual impact will be substantial.  The wind turbines will be visible from the centres of Ayton and Reston.
  • Up to 2500 metres away?  You will be able to see the top of the turbines from both the primary school and village hall in Coldingham, as well as from Templehall.  The turbines will be clearly visible from parts of Eyemouth such as Redhall.
  • Enertrag’s own scoping document shows that this proposed wind farm will be seen from Wooler and beyond Kelso.

To understand the scale of the proposed Blackmains site look no further than the current development at Drone Hill – where the turbines are 76 meters high.  You can imagine the impact of seven turbines which are another 49 meters higher. That is 3 metres higher than Berwick Town Hall and over the twice the height of the Angel of the North.

Enertrag says there are no cultural heritage issues on the Blackmains site. The scoping opinion states this is a significant area of archaeological potential with considerable cultural heritage resource; a number of archaeological sites in the vicinity and 44 scheduled monuments are within 5 km.

Enertrag says there are no environmental landscape descriptions on site. Scottish Borders Council says the wind farm – to be built on prime arable land – will change the character of the rolling lowland landscape; as the visual dominance is marked.

Enertrag says there are not aviation or radar safety issues.  Yet the Ministry of Defence, in their response to the consultation for the temporary met mast, requested that the mast be fitted with aviation lighting.  The mast will be only 80 metres in height which is 45 metres lower that the proposed wind turbines.