AN application for a controversial windfarm near Leadburn has been submitted to council planners this week.

Battle lines have long been drawn regarding the proposals with a community opposition group, Association to Protect the Environment At Leadburn (APEAL), already up and running.

Lomond Energy, the company behind the six-turbine Spurlens Rig development, have also in a first for the Borders, offered the three nearby communities of Lamancha, Eddleston and Howgate, direct ownership of one single turbine; although at an eye-watering £700,000 one-off cost.

The company states though that this unique arrangement could then see them enjoying annual profits of up to £120,000 a year.

Steve Macken, director of Lomond Energy, said this week: "It is exciting to be a part of a project that is the first of its kind in the Borders.

"The benefits of renewable energy go beyond the environmental benefits by providing the resources to fund community projects through a significant annual income for the area.

"We have spent the last three years developing the plan for the project, consulting with local communities and the Council and undertaking environmental studies so it was a great feeling to finally submit the application." Mr Macken also stated how positive he felt of the plans following three recent public exhibitions in Lamancha, Eddleston and Howgate.

He added: "We are committed to continuing an open dialogue with the community through a newly-formed Community Liaison Forum.

"This forum is currently building in numbers and will meet in January for the first time. We would like any local residents who have an interest in the project to join it." Meanwhile Association to Protect the Environment At Leadburn (APEAL) secretary Pippa Dougherty said of the plans: "These turbines will be twice the height of the Scott Monument in Edinburgh, standing right at the entrance to the Borders. This development if given the go-ahead will be just the thin end of the wedge because the site could easily accommodate more.

"How are three small rural communities supposed to find over £700,000 in this current climate? This offer of a direct stake is just a fig leaf because if the plans are approved then the windfarm will progress with or without community ownership."