Wind Farm Developers “Deny the People of Their Democratic Right”
Non-determination within allocated time sees application pushed to appeal board
The chairman of a local environmental protection group has hit out at developers of the planned Mount Lothian wind farm, who have appealed to the Scottish Government weeks before a public meeting, forbidding public representation.
Plans for a nine turbine wind farm south of Penicuik will now be considered by the Scottish Government’s planning appeal body after Midlothian Council failed to give their decision within the allocated time period of four months.
Wind Prospect Developments Ltd and EDF Renewables are hoping to erect nine 102 metre tall wind turbines on Penicuik’s Mount Lothian, just off the B6372. The developer says that each turbine would be capable of generating 2.3 megawatts of power, with a collective sum of 20.7 megawatts being generated per year. All in all this could power 11,092 homes across Scotland.
However after submitting plans to Midlothian Council back in February, the application is yet to be formally decided upon. This is partly down to the developers themselves according to the council. The following is from the council’s appeal statement:
The council wishes to make it known that it [the application] had been prepared for determination in May 2014 however due to difficulties in arranging a pre-determination hearing (availability of the applicant, other participants, venue and council members) this had to be delayed.
The appellant was made fully aware of this at the time. Furthermore, at the time that the appeal was submitted the appellant was fully aware of the proposed schedule for determination of the application. This was for a pre- determination hearing to be held at Penicuik Town Hall on 26 September 2014, with a planning committee date of 07 October 2014.
The mentioned pre-determination meeting was cancelled after Wind Prospects appealed on 22 August, a move that has been branded as undemocratic by the Penicuik Environment Protection Association’s chair Professor Tony Trewavas:
Wind Prospect Developments Limited have twice denied the people of this area their democratic right to present their views to the Councillors at a predetermination meeting.
Whilst the predetermination meeting was cancelled, Midlothian’s councillors are set to state their position on the appeal in a planning committee meeting on October 7. The committee are set to suggest that the government moves to dismiss the application, thus refusing permission. Midlothian Council have stated that the application would have been refused, had it been down to them. Professor Trewavas continued:
The Planning Department have lodged papers which show they would have and will recommend refusal on October 7th thus Midlothian Councillors have been denied their right to determine the application.
The PEPA chair was also keen to highlight the proximity of the suggested site to two other prospective wind farm sites, both of which were refused stating:
Four Government Reporters, Local Plan Reporter, two Reporters at the Auchencorth Public Inquiry and one at the Gilston Public Inquiry have all said that this area is not suitable for large scale wind farm development.
This is the second application by the developer. A controversial application submitted in 2013 was withdrawn to allow further ecological surveys to be carried out, voiding over a thousand public representations. Since resubmission earlier this year, the application has not received as many responses with many statutory bodies not participating for a second time.
Wind Prospect Developments want to stress the benefits of a community fund which could generate millions of pounds over its lifetime. A substantial amount of the money generated would be used on improving the Penicuik Estate, according to land owner Sir Robert Clerk.
The Scottish Government’s reporter will carry out a site visit and take into account all submitted representations to date when they make their decision later this year.
What’s you view? Should the development go ahead? Is it a blight on the landscape? Let us know your view below.