A Call has been made for windfarm development companies to be banned from clinching financial deals with communities affected by their plans.
Watchdog group ArgyllWind Farms (AWF) claims that outlawing the practice of community payments is the only way communities will be “free to respond honestly” to windfarm applications.
The Press and Journal revealed last week that the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust lodged one of only three letters of support for a proposed windfarm at Largie Estate in Kintyre, which has attracted more than 600 letters of objection.
The trust admitted that it proactively sought to contact potential developers, Eurus Energy UK, to ensure that, if the seven turbine windfarm plan went ahead, the community would receive “maximum benefit”.
A spokesman said the potential arrangement had received unanimous support at a well-attended trust meeting on the island.
It has been suggested that the Gigha community could be eligible for an annual payment of more than £30,000 if the plan goes ahead.
The Largie plan has been recommended for refusal by Argyll and Bute Council planning officers, partly because of anticipated visual impact from Gigha and partly because of a perceived threat to protected geese which winter at the site.
A spokesman for ArgyllWindFarms (AWF) said the site was obviously inappropriate, and added: “AWF’s directors are therefore saddened by the statement made by the manager of the Gigha Heritage Trust.
“It seems that the trustees are putting the trust’s possible financial gain, from an inappropriate windfarm development proposal, before any consideration of the island’s heritage, the interests of the islanders dependent on the tourist trade, or their neighbours on the mainland.
“They seem to have taken little account of the impact that Largie windfarm would have on the protected geese on Kintyre or on their own natural heritage, the unspoiled views from Gigha.” The spokesman added: “AWF calls on the Scottish Executive to outlaw deals windfarm companies make with the communities affected by their development proposals. Only then will communities be free to respond honestly to windfarm applications and councillors be free to determine them by looking only at the material planning issues.”
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