A wind farm developer has been accused of raising false hopes over jobs and windfall cash in order to secure a £7million a year public subsidy.
The charge against the Anglo-Dutch consortium behind plans for a 22-turbine scheme on Lochluichart Estate was levelled by the group campaigning to block the scheme in the wake of a Meet the Buyer forum staged in Inverness by Infinergy Ltd last week.
Infinergy said 50 companies representing 5,000 employees expressed an interest in contract opportunities with the proposed wind farm, currently awaiting a determination by the Scottish Executive, which wants to see 40 per cent of the country’s electricity generated by renewable sources by 2020.
Project director Roderick Axell said, “We were extremely pleased with the event, which attracted a steady stream of people throughout the day.
“Without exception, and particularly those with experience of related technology, the attendees were very keen to be involved with the Lochluichart proposal.”
All companies attending the event have been registered on a database and will be kept up to date as the project progresses through the planning process.
But a spokesman for the campaign that aims to stop the Lochluichart proposals in its tracks, claimed Infinergy has previously stated that no more than 100 jobs will be created during the 20-month construction phase with “just a handful” of maintenance jobs sustained thereafter.
He said, “They are not after saving the planet; they are after the £7million a year in Renewable Obligation Certificate payments – basically taxpayers cash. They have not even produced details of wind speeds on the site which is a fair indication they know it’s rubbish in terms of saving greenhouse gases. They are cynically playing on people’s fears of global warming.”
And reacting to news that proposals for a second ballot of local people over the issue by Garve and District Community Council is bogged down in threats of legal action, he said it was for the community council to decide what was appropriate.
But he added, “It’s not just Garve and Achnasheen that could be effected by the outcome of a poll.
“It could effect Torridon , Ullapool and Lochbroom and all the communities in Wester Ross that depend on tourism via the main roads from Inverness.
“Who will get the £132,000 compensation payment Infinergy is offering? “Other communities will have a legitimate claim on it.
“This poll sadly has the capacity to set neighbour against neighbour.”
By Hector MacKenzie
2 February 2007
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