Council too late to make decision on wind farm

The wind farm is now in the government's hands. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The wind farm is now in the government's hands. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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A DEVELOPER has asked the Scottish Government to rule on plans for a giant new wind farm after a council was cut out of the decision-making process.

Hundreds of objections have been made against the Mount Lothian Wind Farm project, which would see nine 335ft-high turbines built on land owned by an aristocratic family in the Pentland Hills.

But because Midlothian Council failed to reach a 
decision on the proposal within four months of the application being submitted, renewables firm Wind Prospect has filed an appeal to the Scottish Government.

The move effectively cuts the local authority out of the equation and the fate of the wind farm – planned for land owned by Sir Robert Clerk – now lies in the hands of the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA).

A Midlothian Council spokeswoman said it had been caught in a “catch 22” situation as it couldn’t approve or reject the planning application, which has drawn 750 objections, without hearing from a series of statutory consultees.

However, while it was waiting for responses, it ran over the decision deadline, allowing Wind Prospect to act.

Karen Thorburn, development manager at the energy firm, said: “The decision to lodge an appeal was taken as the council did not determine the application within the statutory period and did not request for that period to be extended.”

The move by the developer has now drawn criticism from some of the objectors to the scheme, who said London-based Wind Power should have allowed the council to gather all necessary responses.

Tricia Kennedy, co-owner of nearby Newhall Estate, said: “Wind Prospect moved awfully fast in taking this proposal above the council’s head, and I think it’s shameful the way they’ve been treated.”

Analysts have said the windfarm would deliver a £6 million boost for the local economy and produce electricity for more than 11,000 homes. It also has the backing of ‘Big Six’ supplier EDF Energy and would create 16 permanent jobs.

Sir Robert, who was last year named the Lord Lieutenant of Midlothian, said the council had been given every chance to rule on the proposal.

He said: “We had hoped the council would have determined the application months and months ago, but they didn’t do so – which is why we appealed to the Scottish Government.”

A spokeswoman for the DPEA said its reporter would visit the site after speaking to the council.

nash.riggins@edinburghnews.com