SCOTTISH Borders Council (SBC) has ditched its opposition to a Peeblesshire wind farm after almost a decade.

An 18-turbine development within Cloich Forest, near Eddleston, was first proposed in 2012 by Partnership for Renewables (PfR).

SBC opposed the project in 2014 due to concerns over its impact on ‘landscape character and visual amenity’.

But the wind farm, which would be situated around five kilometres from Peebles, won Scottish Government approval in 2016.

However, work on the project has never started, meaning that the original permission has lapsed and a new bid is necessary.

The council intends to support the fresh plans – which include a reduction to 12, albeit larger, turbines.

It said its position had been impacted by a change in weight given to a scheme’s contribution to hitting renewable energy targets.

An SBC spokesperson said: “Since the approval of the consented scheme, the planning policy context for considering a wind farm’s landscape and visual effects has changed significantly with NPF4 (National Planning Framework 4) now accepting that these developments may result in significant landscape and visual impacts.

“The acceptability of a wind farm in this location has already been established. Increasing the height of the turbines will result in the turbines being more perceptible from the affected locations, however this change does not necessarily give rise to significantly harmful landscape and visual effects when compared against the effects of the consented scheme and the more permissive position adopted by NPF4.”

They added: “The development of a wind farm in this location still gives rise to some negative impacts on the setting of individual scheduled monuments and the experience of the historic landscape to the south and west of the development.

“Although this proposal would increase the height of turbines within the site when compared against the consented scheme, it has not been found to cause any additional significant impacts on cultural heritage assets.

“Since the original development was approved it is also relevant to note that we must now attribute greater weight to the renewable energy benefits brought by this development.

“It is acknowledged that this proposal has not addressed the council’s cultural heritage concerns that were expressed in the determination of the original scheme, however the Scottish Ministers decision to approve a wind farm in this location represents a significant material consideration.”

The council spokesperson said that NPF4 “explicitly requires that decision makers must give significant weight to the contribution a development would make toward renewable energy and climate change targets”.

They added: “Compared against the consented scheme, this revised proposal will provide an additional electrical output. The level of its additional contribution may not be vast but it would generate more electricity with fewer turbines within a timescale to meet Scottish Government’s targets to generate 20GW of on-shore wind by 2030.

“The proposal also provides battery storage capacity and that has an important role to play in the transition to net zero in addition to the developments wider net economic benefits.”

EDF Renewables acquired the development portfolio from PfR in 2017 and looked to improve the productivity of the proposed wind farm.

On the firm’s 12-turbine plans, a spokesperson said: “The new wind farm would produce enough low carbon electricity to meet the average annual domestic needs of around 34,000 homes each year and will make a substantial contribution to reducing CO2 emissions.”

The proposal has been submitted to the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit.

SBC’s Planning and Building Standards Committee will be told about the council’s position at a meeting on Monday (April 24).