Wind turbine proposal blows up into council and Holyrood row

How the Woodhall turbine would look
How the Woodhall turbine would look
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A PROPOSED wind turbine has sparked a row between East Lothian Council and the Scottish Government, after it was approved by ministers despite “flying in the face” of local planning policy.

East Lothian Council has demanded an emergency meeting with national planning chiefs after approval was granted for the 78m turbine at Woodhall Farm, near Innerwick, was granted approval under appeal by a government reporter.

Planners are upset at the decision due to their being in talks with the applicant Hector Macaskill and developer Arcus Renewables Ltd at the time of the appeal’s submission.

Council leader Willie Innes and depute leader Michael Veitch have now submitted a letter to Scottish Minister for Local Government and Planning Derek Mackay expressing “considerable dissatisfaction” with the decision and demanding a meeting.

Councillor Veitch said: “I am appalled at the outcome of this appeal, which flies in the face of the council’s locally-formulated policy. Both the council and the residents of East Lothian are entitled to demand an explanation from the Scottish Government as to why local concerns have been dismissed in this way.”

In the letter, the council concedes the developer’s appeal to the government was based on its own failure to determine the application within the statutory period but emphasises that it acted “in good faith” and the appeal was submitted “without prior warning”.

The council also raises concern that the reporter gave little weight to a key document used in determining wind turbine planning applications – the East Lothian Supplementary Landscape Capacity Study for Smaller Wind Turbines – which says in the area around Woodhall Farm there is no scope for wind turbines.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government wants to see the right developments in the right places. The right to challenge a decision by a planning authority is an important element of the democratic process, enshrined in law.”