Blown out...

View across Fala moor with Edinburgh to the right in the distance.
View across Fala moor with Edinburgh to the right in the distance.

CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a windfarm on a Midlothian beauty spot have been dismissed by councillors.

On Tuesday the planning committee turned down the application from Ridge Wind Limited to erect nine large scale wind turbines (up to 115m height to tip) at Fala Moor.

This cross boundary windfarm would have had a further seven turbines in the Scottish Borders side of the site. But planning permission was refused by nine votes to five, primarily because of the proposed development’s impact on the landscape.

The windfarm would have been just 1.5 kilometres from the site of medieval hospital Soutra Aisle.

Brian Moffat runs the historic visitor attraction which has had 400,000 visitors since 1986. He was delighted that the application has been refused.

He said: “I cannot but applaud that. I’m delighted and relieved. That area of land is very precious, much used and really irreplaceable.

“I hope it puts an end to the mad rush to put turbines on every hilltop.

“We know the view from here was referred to in guidebooks as ‘the finest view in Scotland’. It couldn’t be a more exposed view.

“A third of the all round view from here would go if this had been given the go-ahead. It’s an area of great landscape value.

“At the moment there is a plantation in between us, but that plantation is at the end of its life. There would be no screen to protect us from the view of the windfarm within two to three years when the trees come down.”

If this proposal had been approved it would be the fourth windfarm affecting Soutra Aisle, and would have left the historic site covered on three sides by windfarms.

Mr Moffat criticised the lack of public consultation on the proposal and had no knowledge the application was being decided this week until contacted by the Advertiser.

The proposals were always in doubt given the amount of opposition to it. Peat excavation was just one concern.

There also remained an unresolved objection from the Ministry of Defence regarding interference with two radar stations in northern England. National Air Traffic Services also objected to the application over radar concerns.

Scottish National Heritage objected to the application due to unresolved concerns relating to possible impacts upon pink-footed geese.

The RSPB Scotland had serious concerns in relation to a number of potential impacts on bird populations, while Forestry Commission Scotland was concerned about the removal of 15 hectares of woodland.