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Councillors defer plans for £40,000 windfarm officer

Councillors have rejected plans to recruit a £40,000 windfarm officer.

Members decided not to agree the new one-year post until they have further information on what the job would entail.

Convener Patsy Gilroy told members at a meeting of the planning housing and environment committee on Tuesday: “Itseems that whenever we have spare money sloshing around we spend it on more staff.”

An underspend of £767,000 was identified in the planning budget with officers recommending that £40,000 be allocated to the post of windfarm officer.

The officer would be required to work with local community councils, windfarm developers and other stake-holders to “implement, monitor and evaluate the Dumfries and Galloway regional community benefit windfarm protocol”.

This role is currently being carried out by community groups.

Councillor Gilroy added she was involved with negotiations for Robin Rigg and that the local community council handled this well.

She said: “Why would we pay £40,000 for an officer when the system in place at the moment seems to be going well?

“I think that if this is being done already, I have to wonder if we need this.

“I would suggest we don’t.”

She also added that the community councils are “very capable” and have members who are “quite keen.”

Planning official Alistair Speedie confirmed that there was only funding in place for one year, after suggestions that the post would be kept on for more than the agreed period.

Mid and Upper Nithsdale councillor Andrew Wood suggested that the £40,000 could be better used rather than going towards “another official”.

Councillor Wood asked for more information on the officers job role and added: “£40,000 is a lot of money to be throwing away without knowing what we are throwing the money at.”

Convener Patsy Gilroy also asked for information on how many windfarm developments the officer would be dealing with to warrant his/her salary.

Members agreed unanimously to defer the appointment for more detailed information on the work that would be carried out by the windfarm officer.

By Linzi Watson

The Galloway News

12 July 2007