Turbines nearly as tall as Blackpool Tower to be erected on the fringe of Pentlands Hills
Six giant wind turbines are to be built on the fringe of the Pentlands Hills Regional Park despite fears it will hit tourism and disrupt vital broadband signals for local residents.
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Plans had already been approved for the six turbines being built by French Energy giant EDF, but a new application was submitted after they decided to increase the height from 455ft to a new tip height of 491ft – more than twice the height of Edinburgh’s Scott Monument and almost the height of the Blackpool Tower which stands at 518ft.
A total of 23 objections were lodged to the proposed wind farm at Camilty plantation, just south of Harburn, with the disruption to local broadband and TV signals and the impact on the landscape the major issues.
EDF promised to mitigate any disruption to broadband signals, and said research found disruption would be minimal.
One objector, Geraldine Hamilton of West Calder, who owns holiday cottages, wrote that the majority of guests she catered for “were horrified at how many [turbines] there are both in our area and in Scotland.
“An occasional guest said they were acceptable in the right places, but the Pentlands was not the right place. This is a typical response pattern. I feel I know my visitors better than a researcher stopping someone in the street.”
Marie Harkness told a meeting of West Lothian’s Development Management Committee: “Our home is about a mile from the nearest proposed turbine. It’s disappointing that despite engaging with EDF during the consultation period the reports don’t properly investigate the points we raised.
“4G via home router is the only option for internet connection. The report specifically notes that this may be impacted by the turbines. The report was desk based and was commissioned by developers, and written in their interest.
“Broadband isn’t a luxury. It’s an essential utility, and the way that we use the internet has changed since the application was first considered about six years ago.”
The site is on the north side of the A70 “Lang Whang” road and owned by Forestry and Land Scotland.
Planning Officer Wendy McCorriston told councillors: “There will be significant impact, and it will be highly visible. These impacts have already been assessed and accepted through appeal decisions.”
She added that as wind farm would be in a landscape that is characterised by similar development, approval was recommended.
There are several wind farms visible from the Lang Whang stretching from just north of Carnwath to beyond the Harburn road end.
Planners had attached lengthy conditions governing construction and maintenance of the site which would be commissioned for a 30 year life span- a five year extension on the initial proposal.
Sarah Dooley, speaking for EDF, said the wind farm could provide a year’s power for 19,000 homes. The proposal was a “moderate increase” in height from the original application in 2016 proposal to optimise operation and help the country meet challenging net zero carbon emission targets.
Mrs Dooley said “One of main concerns was potential to impact TV radio satellite signals. Whilst impacts are unlikely, technical mitigation could be called up should issues arrive. We have listened to the local community and we are happy to incorporate mitigation into our proposals.”
The plans were passed.