The community group behind a controversial windfarm plan in Sutherland announced the scheme had been “put in the deep freeze” just hours before what was expected to be a heated public meeting on the subject.
Assynt Foundation acquired the picturesque Drumrunie and Glencanisp Estates in Sutherland and Wester Ross for £2.9million in a community buy-out two years ago.
But local people were divided over the foundation’s decision to conduct a feasibility study into a community windfarm project, which could have resulted in three to six turbines being erected on Glencanisp Estate.
Assynt Community Council called a public meeting and was planning to conduct a postal ballot to establish whether the community wanted the foundation to proceed with the windfarm concept.
However, the Assynt Foundation presented the council with a surprise statement shortly before the public meeting was due to start on Tuesday evening.
The statement from foundation development manager, Mark Lazzeri, said: “There is no current work in progress on any wind turbine proposal.
“The wind turbine proposal as detailed in the executive summary of the feasibility study has been put in the deep freeze and it will remain so whilst all alternatives within the Assynt area are thoroughly investigated, including all appropriate technologies.”
He added that such investigations would involve all interested parties and would seek to create a community owned renewable energy project to provide benefit for the whole community and to secure future funding for the Assynt Foundation. “In the unlikely event of no suitable alternatives being found, the original proposal will only be revisited after a full community debate and ballot,” said Mr Lazzeri.
An emergency meeting of the council was called immediately before the public meeting for members to consider the statement, which was then read to those attending the packed public meeting at Lochinver Village Hall.
Community council chairman Robin Noble said: “The statement was accepted and welcomed. We then moved on to consideration of the general renewable energy possibilities for Assynt for the future.”
He added that the meeting had been very positive and said they now needed to decide how to take the matter forward.
“Everyone is now working together for the future for the whole community. I think it’s a very good solution to what was becoming a very nasty problem,” he said.
5 July 2007
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