Two wind turbines at Phantassie Farm near East Linton were given the thumbs-up by councillors despite concerns that they were against the council’s own guidelines.
Hamilton Farmers Ltd applied for planning consent for the 21.5 metre structures at Limekilns.
But at that height they fell into Typology C that the East Lothian Supplementary Landscape Capacity Study for Smaller Wind turbines advised could not be accommodated in the agricultural plain area.
Iain McFarlane, development management manager, told East Lothian Council’s planning committee on Tuesday that it was proposed to excavate the land of the site of each wind turbine by 1.5 metres, so they would both sit on a lower ground level than the farmland around them.
This, he said, would result in each wind turbine having a peceived height of 20 metres to blade tip, only a fraction higher than a Typology D wind turbine, between 12 metres and less than 20 metres high which generally could be accommodated in this landscape area.
Tim Hield of the pressure group SABEL (Sustain a Beautiful East Lothian) said the study for wind turbines was “first class” but he said this year, of the nine applications made for wind turbines, only one complied with the guidance.
He argued that by digging a big hole to put the turbines in was disguising their true height.
“The intregrity and usefulness of your SLCS is becoming seriously eroded - it is now seem for the most part as something to get round, rather than to comply with,” he claimed.
Councillor Michael Veitch opposed the wind turbines, saying: “There have been 20 written objections to these wind turbines, many of which object on the basis that the turbines are contrary to the findings of East Lothian Council’s own guidance.”
But Councillor Willie Innes, supporting the plan, said: “I think the policy was introduced to bring clarity to the situation and it was felt and agreed by almost everyone that 20 metres was acceptable. If you look at the application that’s what you are getting to see. They have reduced the height by digging a hole in effect. This application will be supporting jobs and farming, and I think it is important that we do seek to support businesses in East Lothian.”
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