Planning Appeal

We have now lodged a planning appeal with the Scottish Government against the decision by ELC planning committee to reject our application for a 100% community-owned wind turbine. Below is a short Q&A covering the most common questions raised in relation to our proposal and our decision to appeal to the Scottish Government. Please email additional questions to  These will be answered and where appropriate added to this Q&A.

Please note this email address is monitored by volunteers and there may therefore be a delay in processing any communications.

Q Why don’t you accept the view that the visual impact of wind turbines is so negative that it overrides any benefits?

Climate change is real and its impacts are severe, most severe in areas which are less able to deal with those impacts, and historically less responsible for the causes. While we accept that turbines should be sensitively sited, and that there should be no carte blanche for developments, we feel that the negative perception by some regarding this project should not hamper attempts to tackle climate change or accept responsibility.

The benefits also include a significant injection of cash into the ward which could help tackle some of the impacts of ongoing cuts to public services and incomes.

Suggestions so far include:

  • A community mini-bus to tackle isolation and high transport costs in outlying settlements while transporting social clubs and kids football teams etc;
  • The provision of solar panels and insulation for low-income households;
  • A free food day in the community café using food from local shops that would otherwise go to waste;
  • Support for a welfare advice service.

Again we feel that these potential benefits to the whole of the ward outweigh any perceived negatives.

Q Why did you select Cocklaw /Blackcastle Hill?

A The site provides an excellent wind resource, reasonable proximity to the grid, is 1.2km from nearest home and we managed to secure the landowner’s agreement.

Q – Why did you choose this site when the Supplementary Capacity Study (SLCS)says there is no capacity on that site?

A – We identified and secured a CaRES loan to carry out a feasibility study and develop a proposal for this site before the landscape capacity study was published.

Q- Why not change to a site to comply with the SLCS?

A. The CaRES loan is to develop a specific site. It is now too late to change the site. Besides this, there are no other sites which provide such a combination of good wind resource, distance from houses, proximity to grid and with a landowner that will work with us.

We have no doubt that wherever we propose to site such a project objections will be raised and opposition organised.

Q – Why not develop inside an existing wind farm?

A – We have been trying to develop a community wind turbine within Aikengall and Crystal Rig wind farms since 2010. Unfortunately private wind farm developers have not proved responsive.

Q – Why is it in East Lammermuir if its a Dunbar community wind turbine?

A – The profits from the community-wind turbine will serve Dunbar and District, that includes Dunpender, West Barns, Dunbar and  East Lammermuir Community Councils. Each have been invited to work on a ‘project evaluation group’ (PEG) which will decide how the profits are spread across existing community groups and new proposals for community projects . ELCC have said they are interested in joining the PEG.

The turbine is also visible from Dunbar.

Q A survey of residents in East Lammermuir rejected the proposal why don’t you accept that?

ELCC objected to the community wind turbine based their survey of local households. The survey was sent to 200 houses and 115 responded. 55 people objected and 33 supported . The rest didn’t mind or did not send the survey back (it had a stamped addressed envelope).

This compared to our survey in 2012 where 500 households gave their opinions including a sample from East Lammermuir. This found 61% supported the idea of a community-owned wind turbine in this specific location. The results of that survey led us to develop the application and we remain convinced of their legitimacy.

Q Why did your survey take into account the views of residents across the Ward when many cannot see it?

All residents across the ward subsidise wind and all other energy generation through general taxation and energy bills. They all therefore have a legitimate voice in this decision.

Besides the proposed turbine would in fact be visible from much of Dunbar and not visible from many areas across East Lammermuir.

Q East Lothian Council Planning committee refused the application. Why don’t you accept that?

Several members implied they supported the idea of the community wind turbine but had to refuse permission because of visual impact.  The planning department cannot consider the community benefit as a “positive” against the visual impact “negative”. By taking the application to appeal it will highlight the need for a change in Scottish Planning Policy that will allow planning officials to take community benefit into consideration.

Q Using the Scottish Government in an attempt to override locally elected officials is anti-democratic, why are you pursuing this route?

The whole of the planning process is part of the democratic process – lodging, objecting, supporting, rejecting and appealing. There is therefore nothing anti-democratic in exhausting the process. Indeed suggestions that we should not do so are anti-democratic and any failure of us to do so may be viewed as an irresponsible waste of the public funds which have taken us this far.

The Scottish Government will be the ultimate arbiter on this and many other planning applications.

Q How much money?

£200,000 average a year for twenty years.

Q Who decides what to do with it?

We plan to set up a group to assess applications for funding for local projects which support the environment and the economy creating jobs and helping make Dunbar more sustainable and vibrant. The group will be open to community councils, local traders, residents, councils officials and others.

A similar scheme is working in another community, see Udny

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Urgent – Planning Committee will decide this Tuesday

Please attend the Council Chambers, Town House, Haddington for 10 am on Tuesday 7th May to support our community wind turbine planning application. The planning committee will decide on our application at 10 am and your presence will show how the community feel. town house haddington

If planning consent is granted, we will pursue the option of raising part of the projects costs (c£1.7 million) locally through the creation of an investment opportunity for local people.

The investment proposal would offer returns of around 5% and provide people with a secure and ethical investment opportunity in these times of increasing financial insecurity. Such a model would mean cheaper finance for the project than if it is raised through a bank. It would therefore mean the generation of greater profits for other community projects, currently £200,000 per year.

Ward 7 map (2)

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Letters/ e mails of Support Needed

Blackcastle Hill Community Wind Turbine
Planning Application – your comments needed
See full details of the proposal and the proposed disbursement process for the estimated £4million community investment fund.

It is vital for the local community to show support for the project.
Please contact East Lothian Council Planning Department to make your views known.
You can do this by:
Please quote planning reference: Ref. No: 12/00874/P
You can also use the on-line form here, but you have to register with planning on-line.
Your support is needed now. Please don’t delay!
Some points (red is essential) that you might want to consider emphasising when making a comment are:
  1. The visual impact of a community owned turbine is very different from that of a commercially owned turbine. This is shown by our survey of 500 random households across Dunbar and District that showed that 47% support private wind turbines (with 21% not bothered) while 68% support community owned wind turbines (with 13% not bothered).
  2. The socio-economic benefits from the ~ £4million community controlled investment fund that will be used to support local projects, particularly investing in job creation and skills training – and other projects to implement Sustaining Dunbar’s Local Resilience Action Plan.
  3. We want our money back, from increased fuel bills to support renewables, to create jobs in our community.
  4. This project helps to implement East Lothian Council’s Environment Strategy which includes the action: Plan positively and seek opportunities to facilitate low carbon and renewable energy technologies for communities to produce their own energy. 

The East Lothian Environment Strategy also states: We will achieve the following outcomes:

  •      Locally produced and distributed renewable heat and energy supply will be       encouraged, where appropriate
  •      Opportunities to encourage and support a local economy will be sought
  •      Local community action to address resource efficiency and climate change      challenges is supported
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Community turbine on tour

With help from the people of East Lammermuir we are able to display our plans for the community wind turbine in the villages around East Lammermuir.

Wed 5th Dec – Friday 7th December  – Innerwick Village Hall

Friday 7th Dec Oldhamstocks Village Hall

Saturday 8th December – Stenton Village Hall – postponed

More dates to follow…

We hope that it helps people understand our idea. It would appear that some people still think this is a private development so we thought we would explain a few things :-

Which community ? – the community that would benefit from the  community wind turbine money is Ward 7. This is the electoral ward covered by our three councillors, four community councils and Sustaining Dunbar.

How do we benefit?

The community wind turbine will make money be selling electricity and making “green” electricity. All the money is then placed into a grant fund. Local people and projects can apply to the grant fund to finance ideas that support the local economy in  the areas of Food, Energy, Transport, Health, Enterprise, Skills and Education.

Why are we doing it?

Money is getting tight and jobs are being lost. By developing community energy we can make sure that some of the money we lose through our electricity bills comes back to be spent in our local community. Estimated £4 million over 20 years.

What happens next?

This project may not happen without local support. The people of the community need to tell the planning department that they support the idea.




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Planning Application reference

We now have a reference. Please, as stated below, support community energy.

Send an e-mail to:

or write to them at:

Environment, John Muir House, Brewery Park, Haddington, EH41 3HA

Erection of 1 wind monitoring mast for a temporary period of 18 months, 1 wind turbine and associated works

Blackcastle Hill Dunbar East Lothian

Ref. No: 12/00874/P | Received: Fri 02 Nov 2012 | Validated: Tue 27 Nov 2012 | Status: Pending Consideration

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Blackcastle/Cocklaw Hill community wind turbine – exhibition

We have applied for planning permission to put a community wind turbine on Blackcastle/Cocklaw Hill. Details of this proposed community wind turbine will be on display, all week, from Monday 19th November at Bleachingfield centre. On Thursday 22nd November we will hold a questions and answers session between 3pm and 7pm.

The exhibition will be on display in Innerwick Village Hall on Friday 7th December.

Over the next few weeks and months East Lothian Council planning department will listen to the views of many people to help them decide if they should approve the turbine application.

The best way to assist this project is to contact East Lothian Council planning department to tell them that you support the Blackcastle/Cocklaw hill community wind turbine.


Send an e-mail to:

or write to them at:

Environment, John Muir House, Brewery Park, Haddington, EH41 3HA

You can also contact the planning department on-line via this link

Thanks for you support.

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Crystal Rig 3 – a wind farm with community potential – version X

The other entry was a bit…. long! Sorry about that. We think it’s only fair to put all the information out there so people can make their own minds up. In short, what we are saying is… The Crystal Rig wind farm is growing bigger and the next stage, Crystal Rig 3, will add another 11 wind turbines to the 101 privately owned wind turbines on the East Lammermuir Plateau.

Crystal Rig 3 development area

East Lothian Council Planning Department have experts saying that the landscape can’t take any more wind turbines in the area but East Lothian Council are thinking of adding 7, council owned wind turbines, to Crystal Rig 3.  How can we have 18 more turbines when the landscape is full?


Well, if some wind turbines are locally owned then they are looked at differently than if they are privately owned. Nothing needs to change in the planning department but local people need to voice their opinion. If local people support the locally owned wind turbines then it helps the planning department decide on the “visual impact.”

there will always be people who are against proposals, but when genuine community initiatives-which use a genuine community fund, offer genuine community payback and make a clear connection between the proposal and the wider community-send a clear message to decision makers that the development is welcome in the locale. That goes a long way to offsetting other issues to do with landscape, noise, flicker and so on.” Chris Norman – Head of Planning Scotland.

“ the purpose of landscape character assessment is not to prevent change but to illustrate what change will look like in order to allow elected decision makers and their electorate to decide whether or not they want it.” Andrew Thin – Chair of Scottish Natural Heritage

Rather than looking at it and saying‘that big company dumped it here to make profit’, they look at it and say ‘that’s ours and I get some profit from it’ and as a result it turns out aesthetic perceptions are deeply subjective and you say ‘I rather like it’ rather than ‘I rather dislike it.’”  Lord (Adair) Turner – Chairman of Committee on Climate Change

Dunbar Community Energy Company object to the Crystal Rig 3 wind farm extension as a privately owned wind farm. We will support a Crystal Rig 3 wind farm extension if 7 turbines are locally owned.  I hope this clears things up.

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Crystal Rig 3 – a wind farm with community potential

The proposed Crystal Rig 3 wind farm extension will be an important test of how we feel about wind turbines. Do we prefer them if we benefit from them? Does community ownership of wind turbines increase our acceptance of them? Will East Lothian Council become a pathfinder for locally owned energy?

Earlier this year Lord (Adair)Turner, as chairman of the British Government’s Committee on Climate Change, talked about wind farms and said  “Rather than looking at it and saying ‘that big company dumped it here to make profit’, they look at it and say ‘that’s ours and I get some profit from it’ and as a result it turns out aesthetic perceptions are deeply subjective and you say ‘I rather like it’ rather than ‘I rather dislike it.'” 

The background

Natural Power, on behalf of Fred.Olsen Renewables, has been developing the Crystal Rig wind farm since 2004. Situated on the East Lammermuir Plateau, by the Monynut Edge, Crystal Rig has expanded to 84 turbines with an installed capacity of 240 MW. In July 2010 Natural Power submitted a scoping opinion to propose a further extension named Crystal Rig 3. Crystal Rig 3 is proposed as an extension of  9 to 18 wind turbines on the land known as Dunbar Common and Barnsly Hill.

As a statutory consultee East Lothian Council planning department submitted a response which included reference to visual impact. “The proposed extension appears to be based on the grid capacity in the area and wind speeds, rather than on any design or landscape capacity considerations. The degree of visual impact could vary significantly depending on the number of turbines proposed which range from 9 to 18 turbines. The ES should state the design rationale behind this proposal and the location of individual turbines and how do these relate in visual terms to the existing wind turbines.”

In December 2011, East Lothian Council ratified the Supplementary Landscape Capacity Study for smaller wind turbines (SLCS) for inclusion in the planning decision process.

The SLCS has defined areas that have capacity for development and includes the proposed site of Crystal Rig 3. The SLCS states “There is no scope for the larger development Typologies A and B to be accommodated within this character area.” (Typologies A and B refer to wind turbines from 42m to 120m to blade tip.) The wind turbines proposed for Crystal Rig 3 will reach 125 m to blade tip.

There is grid capacity for eighteen 2.3 MW wind turbines on the site. In February 2012 Natural Power confirmed that it would be seeking planning permission, from the Scottish Government, for 11 wind turbines.  This summer the leader of East Lothian Council said that they were looking into Crystal Rig 3 as an option for council ownership of wind turbines. “We know that there is going to be an extension of Crystal Rig, and we are just examining the possibilities.”

“We would have to sustain the capital costs, but the revenue would come to the council. We haven’t got into the details of the numbers, but I believe that there’s going to be space for up to seven [turbines].

“I think that’s probably the easiest option – just to ‘piggy back’ on a proposal rather than having to identify a site independently.”

What about the visual impact?

So, how could East Lothian Council add another seven wind turbines to a site that, by their own planning guidance, has no capacity for any more, not even the eleven planned by Natural Power? If you look at the maps you will see where the turbines are in relation to the trees.

We believe that it depends on how people feel about the visual impact, and it looks like that’s what the experts say too. East Lothian Council will have to refer to their Supplementary Landscape Capacity Study(SLCS).

The SLCS follows the same methodology as its predecessor, “Landscape Capacity Study for Wind Turbine Development in East Lothian 2005”. The report states “landscape capacity is described as ‘the degree to which a particular landscape character type or area is able to accommodate change without significant effects on it’s character, or overall change of landscape character type. Capacity is likely to vary according to the type and nature of change being proposed’ (CA-SNH, 2002)”

The report defines Landscape Character “Landscape character relates not only to the physical attributes of the land but also to the experience of the receptor. Landscape character is made up of physical characteristics of land such as landform, woodland pattern etc (which exist whether anyone sees them or not) plus a range of perceptual and value based responses to that landscape.”

The original report refers to the Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) guidelines and we can assume that the supplementary report would have made reference to the latest guidelines from SNH.

Scottish Natural Heritage in the 2009 publication “Siting and Designing windfarms in the landscape Vol 1” Section 1.9 “…landscape is the basis for many of our social, community and cultural values

Section 2.4 Landscape and visual impacts of Windfarms – “LVIA comprises two separate parts, Landscape Impact Assessment (LIA) and Visual Impact Assessment (VIA), although these are related processes as described within the GLVIA. LIA considers the effects of the physical landscape, which may give rise to the changes in its character, and how this is experienced. VIA considers potential changes that arise to available views in a landscape from a development proposal, the resultant effects on visual amenity and people’s responses to the changes

Some research has been done into how people feel about wind turbines if they are locally owned. As study conducted in Gigha shows that people are much happier about locally owned turbines rather than privately owned wind turbines. Our own research shows that people feel better about the idea of locally owned wind turbines. Community Consultation 2012


When the planning application is submitted the Scottish Government’s energy consent team will decide about if Crystal Rig 3 goes ahead or not. How important is the opinion of the East Lothian Council planning department and the Supplementary Landscape Capacity Study?

During the spring and summer of 2012 the Scottish Parliament began an inquiry into the Scottish Government’s renewable energy targets. It is called the Renewable Energy Targets Inquiry (RETI) and many experts were called to give evidence including.

  • Chris Norman – Heads of Planning Scotland
  • Simon Coote – Head of energy consents (Scottish Government)
  • Andrew Thin – chair of Scottish Natural Heritage

Heads of Planning Scotland represents the views of planning departments within local authorities; energy consents deals with large wind farm planning applications ( and extensions to wind farms) and Scottish Natural Heritage contributes to the decision making process of both.

During the inquiry Chris Norman stated that “it is very hard to make an assessment of a wind farm application” He confirmed that “We have guidelines but, at the same time, one has to interpret them and overlay them with community reaction.” Speaking on behalf of the Heads of Planning Scotland he added “Local authority planning colleagues’ clear view is that they should rely on the preferred areas.” With regards the influence of local authority planners on energy consents decisions he stated “ the local authorities, as I understand it, are very much the eyes and ears of the Scottish government in determining section 36 proposalsWhen asked how much weight the Scottish Government’s energy consents department place on the preferred areas defined by local authorities Simon Coote stated “It would become a material consideration. It is also worth pointing out that planning authorities play a pivotal role in the consents process under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989, which I also oversee, in fact they are statutory consultees.” He went on to say “…the planning authority has the most fundamental role of any consultee”

When asked about community wind turbines Chris Norman stated “there will always be people who are against proposals, but when genuine community initiatives-which use a genuine community fund, offer genuine community payback and make a clear connection between the proposal and the wider community-send a clear message to decision makers that the development is welcome in the locale. That goes a long way to offsetting other issues to do with landscape, noise, flicker and so on.”

This suggestion that community wind turbines have a different impact on the landscape than commercial developments was not discussed further but the issue of visual impact was. Chris Norman said “I categorically state that the prima facie issues for us are the visual impact and the cumultative impact”.

Andrew Thin of Scottish Natural Heritage  added “Scotland is an entirely man-made landscape, or a people-made landscape, to be clear

the purpose of landscape character assessment is not to prevent change but to illustrate what change will look like in order to allow elected decision makers and their electorate to decide whether or not they want it.”


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Avoid talking about problems if you don’t have the solution Mr Trump

On the 25th April media attention focused on Donald Trump giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s inquiry into the renewable energy targets. Another man giving evidence at the same inquiry was a more composed and reserved gentleman, Graham Lang representing Communities against Turbines (CATS). When asked the big question about how Scotland should deal with the energy problem Donald Trump roared about hydro, like he was an expert on that as well as tourism.  Graham Lang provided an acutely accurate summary of the solution that seemed to pass folk by.

“I mentioned the sustainable energy hierarchy: demand reduction; energy efficiency; and renewable micro-energy- combined heat and power, heat pumps, solar and wind, and small scale and community renewable, in relation to which there can be reinvestment locally for projects up the hierarchy, for heat and for electricity. The important thing is that most effort and funding should go into the higher levels of the hierarchy, where efforts will be most effective at reducing emissions and fuel poverty.”

So, we’re in agreement on that one…. community energy can provide people with energy advice and  micro-renewables which reduce energy demand and the need for more turbines. By doing this locally we maintain and create local jobs. Nice one Graham.


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Scottish forests meet community needs through wind power

On the 26th April 2012 Harper Macleod LLP (legal advisors to Fred. Olsen Renewables) will host the Scottish Highland Renewable Energy Conference in Inverness. It will be attended by Jeremy Sainsbury (director at Natural Power and Chairman of Scottish Renewables); Community Energy Scotland and the key note speaker is Fergus Ewing MSP Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism. More info here

With these key players in the same room we could see a radical change in the way we develop Scottish resources for the benefit of the people of Scotland as well as the big businesses that are currently securing the benefits. Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) has divided up the Scottish Forestry estates and offered them to “Development partners” including Scottish Power, E-ON, PNE Wind and Fred. Olsen Renewables.

Forestry Commission Scotland are also giving communities a chance to get involved..

A coalition of charities in East Lothian, Dunbar Community Energy Company and Voluntary Action East Lothian, is offering to help one of these major developers, Fred. Olsen Renewables (Natural Power), become a leading example of how to work with communities and share the benefits of wind farm developments in Scotland.

Fred. Olsen Renewables (Natural Power) are planning a third extension to their Crystal Rig wind farm in East Lothian. The wind farm has the grid capacity for 18 wind turbines but Natural Power is submitting planning permission for 11. The communities of East Lothian could have ownership of the remaining 7 wind turbines.  If this potential  “pathfinder” project was realised it would bring £1.5 to £3.5 million each year in revenue for community projects throughout East Lothian.

Should Crystal Rig 3 happen without our communities getting a chance to benefit?

During a recent speech in parliament Fergus Ewing, Minister for Energy said “From meetings and discussions that I have had with companies, and not just big companies, I can report that many—probably not all, but many—desire to move away from paying as little as possible and want communities to feel that they are involved and valued, not exploited and abused. That is a very good thing and I strongly welcome it.”

What would happen if :-

  • Fred. Olsen Renewables (Natural Power) as a FCS Development partner, agree to work with Dunbar Community Energy Company, and partners, on the Crystal Rig 3 pathfinder project as a model for community energy projects on FCS estates.
  • The Scottish Government will maintain its’ support for community energy through schemes such as CARES and REIF.
  • The £50m Warm Homes Fund is launched and targeted at helping low-income communities access the benefits of energy generation
  • Communities are encouraged to invest some of the revenue to meet the Scottish Government fuel poverty and carbon reduction targets. Thus reducing the amount of energy we need and the cost of the energy we use.
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