OBJECTIONS to plans for a huge new wind farm are mounting after concerns over its effects on a Roman fort and air safety were lodged alongside fears that the development will wreck views of the Pentland Hills.
The controversial £70m proposal to build a 22-turbine wind farm at Harburnhead, West Lothian, has been submitted to the Scottish Government by Spanish firm Enel Viento SL.
Edinburgh City Council has already objected to the proposal and West Lothian Council is expected to follow suit, both on the grounds that the wind farm would have an unacceptable impact on the unique landscape of the area.
Further concerns have been raised by Edinburgh Airport, which said the wind turbines could create “clutter” on air traffic controllers’ screens. Kirknewton Flying Club has also raised aviation safety concerns in relation to the operation of Kirknewton airfield.
Historic Scotland has raised fears that the development could have an adverse effect on a Roman fort at Castle Greg and the landscape at Harburn House Georgian mansion.
A spokesperson for Historic Scotland said the body had not yet made a formal objection to the wind farm proposal, but the significance of the fort, which is a scheduled ancient monument, was not in doubt.
The spokesperson said: “Camilty Hill, Roman Fortlet, Castle Greg is a well-preserved Roman military base dating from the late 1st century AD, the earliest phase of Roman military activity in Scotland.
“It is of national importance for its considerable potential to contribute to our understanding of Roman military activity in Scotland, the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire.”
Due to the scale of the proposed development, the application is set to be decided by the Government rather than West Lothian Council.
However, if West Lothian Council formally objects to the wind farm as expected, the Government will be obliged to hold a public inquiry.
Other groups against the plan include Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Rights of Way and Access Society and the Friends of the Pentlands.
But the Scottish Government has also received 967 letters in support of the proposal.
The West Lothian Council executive formally objected to another wind farm application, at Fauch Hill in West Calder, in June, again citing an unacceptable impact on the Pentland Hills area.
Concerns over the cumulative impact of wind farms on the southern boundary of West Lothian have also been raised, with other applications in the area having already been made or expected.
Steve Field, the council’s head of planning and economic development, said in a report: “If each proposal were to proceed, the scenically attractive and presently undeveloped area of the northern and north-west Pentland fringe would be transformed into a large scale industrialised landscape.”
And speaking about the Harburnhead proposal, he added: “The landscape of West Lothian around Cobbinshaw is an area characterised by open vistas which provides a setting for the more sensitive landscapes of the Pentland Hills.
“It is visible from a principal route, the A70, from popular local outdoor recreation facilities and from the designed landscape of Harburn House. The substantial landscape change that would be brought about by the proposal would be unacceptable in landscape and visual terms.”
It is expected that West Lothian Council’s executive will vote on whether to formally oppose the development on September 18.