PLANS to install turbines in Peeblesshire could muddy the waters for rural residents nearby, according to a community leader.

Proposals to install 12 turbines at Cloich near Eddleston have been described as “lunacy” by the village’s community council chairman, James Taylor.

Mr Taylor, a resident of Stewarton for 28 years, says that the water supply that has served the community for centuries is under threat.

“Our primary concern remains the security of potable water for both quality and quantity for us and the other four dwellings at Stewarton and the livestock of about 1,000 herd of sheep and cattle on the farm around us,” he said.

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“All of us take our water off the hill, and it’s a mixture of surface water and groundwater.

“This water comes from Stewarton Burn and from mosses and springs to the west of us, and that’s from ground owned by Forestry and Land Scotland, which in turn is wholly owned by Scottish Ministers.”

EDF assured residents in May 2020 that an avoidance approach would be used to protect the water supply.

But Mr Taylor claims that EDF has not avoided risk to the water supply at the design stage and has chosen to rely on mitigation, post consent.

He says that should the water be polluted or fail, the emergency response plan consists of supplying residents with bottled water in the short term, and bowser water in the long term.

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“That to me is palpably ridiculous, despite EDF acknowledging that our shared water is at risk. Isolated individual dwellings are the only group of people to hold EDF’s feet to the fire and demand from them and their advisors, a walkover of our water sources, that is why they have admitted risk,” said Mr Taylor.

He says businesses and dwellings to the east and west of Cloich, who also take their water off the hill, merit the same protection.

He added: “EDF has failed to understand our fragile rural infrastructure. To pour thousands of tonnes of concrete into a fragile water-bearing environment – that is lunacy.

“What happens if this doesn’t work is that many places I’ve mentioned around Cloich will no longer be viable as dwellings, farms or businesses.”

Mr Taylor has criticised the research that government bodies have carried out, saying that they need to do “a whole lot more”.

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The original application in 2012 was to install 16 turbines at 130m, but this received a raft of objections, including one from SBC, which sought and obtained a reduction in height to 115m on the grounds of unwanted and visual impact.

However, the new application seeks to install a reduced number of 12 turbines, increased to 149.5m in height.

Mr Taylor says the turbines will be visible from Peebles, Edinburgh, Fife, and the south of Scotland.

An EDF spokesperson said: “The final Cloich wind farm design is currently awaiting a decision from the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit (ECU).

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“It is based on feedback we received from a number of community groups and local people at our public exhibitions which were held in April this year and in February 2020.

“Amongst others, Eddleston Community Council received a copy of the project’s environmental impact assessment to allow them to consider the wind farm proposal carefully and make any comments to the ECU.

“If consented we believe the wind farm will make an important contribution to meeting climate change targets and will establish a new benefit fund to support local community initiatives and activities.”