East Lothian Councillors Greenlight SSE Renewables’ Ambitious Windfarm Project Despite Local Concerns

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In a landmark decision, East Lothian councillors have given the green light to SSE Renewables for the construction of 21-metre high buildings in the rural East Lothian area to facilitate the establishment of one of the world’s largest windfarms. The ambitious project is set to bring renewable energy ashore near Skateraw on the east coast of the county.

Despite concerns raised by local communities about the absence of a comprehensive masterplan for the region, the plans envision the creation of a substation or converter station in Innerwick, located in the county’s Lammermuirs. The proposed development includes laying cables across an expanse of nearly 600 hectares of land between Skateraw and Branxton.

SSE Renewables’ proposals are poised to undergo a public inquiry by Scottish Ministers next year, primarily focusing on the contentious issue of Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) aimed at acquiring land from various stakeholders. Notably, objections have been lodged by significant entities, including the operators of Torness Nuclear Power Station, Network Rail, Scottish Powers, and private landowners.

Amid these objections, the East Lothian Council’s planning committee rejected calls for a public inquiry into the planning application itself, emphasizing the need to consider the project on its individual merits. Three community councils representing local residents voiced their concerns, contending that a broader perspective, incorporating other planned projects for the area, should be taken into account.

Critics argue that the proposed 21-metre high buildings would be visible from Innerwick, raising aesthetic and environmental concerns. Accusations were levelled at the council, claiming a ‘piecemeal’ approach to renewable development in the countryside, with suggestions that ten additional projects were already in the pipeline for the region.

Councillor Norman Hampshire, the planning committee convenor, asserted that the committee could only evaluate the cumulative impact of existing projects, not those potentially emerging in the future. He urged fellow members to base their decision on the application’s current merit. Despite the objection from Councillor Lyn Jardine and concerns expressed by Councillor Jeremy Findlay, the committee voted decisively, with nine members in favour and one opposed, granting planning permission in principle.

One notable suggestion during the deliberations came from Councillor Shona McIntosh, who implored SSE Renewables to explore the possibility of implementing a heat recovery system. Highlighting the presence of approximately 150 homes in Innerwick relying on oil and facing fuel poverty, she urged the energy firm to consider ways to benefit the local community.

In response, a spokesperson for SSE Renewables stated that the company is actively exploring the feasibility of introducing a network, hinting at a commitment to addressing concerns raised during the planning process.

Despite the divided opinions and objections from various quarters, the decision by East Lothian councillors underscores the delicate balance between fostering renewable energy development and addressing local apprehensions. As the project moves forward, it will likely remain under scrutiny, with stakeholders keeping a keen eye on its implementation and impact on the East Lothian landscape.

Danielle Trigg
Danielle Trigghttps://newswriteups.com/
Journalist Danielle is a skilled journalist specializing in regional coverage across the United Kingdom. With her wealth of experience and in-depth knowledge, Danielle dives into the stories that matter to local communities. Her meticulous research and engaging writing style captivate readers, providing them with a comprehensive understanding of the dynamic business landscape. Danielle's commitment to delivering accurate and thought-provoking news sets her apart, making her an invaluable asset to the News Write Ups team. danielle@newswriteups.com

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