A public meeting will be held in Selkirk in September to decide if there is support for a controversial windfarm development on Common Good land at Linglie Farm.
The site – preferred by consultants – would see at least three turbines towering over the Common Riding route and be clearly visible from the town.
Such a facility, however, could yield an annual income of £1.3million for the community.
Four turbines, capable of generating 6MW, would bring in £1.75million a year from sales of electricity to the National Grid.
“This project is at a very early stage,” said community council chairman Dr Lindsay Neil. “What we need now is a full and wide-ranging public debate.
“To get to the stage of this pre-feasibility report has cost us nothing and nothing more will be spent without the community firmly behind it.”
However, it was Dr Neil who commissioned the report, using executive powers as chairman of the Selkirk Regeneration Group.
Funded by a £1,000 grant from the Energy Savings Trust, consultants Entec were charged by Dr Neil to look at both the town’s North and South Common as potential sites for windfarms. It selected the North Common and, in particular, Peat Law and Linglie Hill, claiming there was “significant wind generation development potential”.
If it comes to fruition, the facility would be the first community-owned and run windfarm in the South of Scotland.
Expected to attend the Selkirk meeting, details of which are still to be finalised, are experts involved with the creation of Scotland’s first community windfarm on the island of Gigha where grants paid for about two thirds of the capital cost. A trust was formed to borrow the balance at commercial rates.
“The attraction of such a scheme is that income and profit goes not to private companies, but straight back into the community,” said Mr Neil. “I commissioned the study because windfarms are going up whether we like it or not.
“Taking the lead in this way gives Selkirk the chance to control size and location and, of course, reap the benefits. We could, for example, rebuild Murray’s Cauld.
“At present the income derived from our Common Good assets is negligible.”
Opposition to the scheme looks assured.
“This is hallowed ground to the people of Selkirk and to even think about despoiling it in this way is a scandal,” said Ex-Standard Bearer Peter Scott.
Neither the Common Riding Trust nor the Ex-Standard Bearers Association were consulted over the report.
Councillor Vicky Davidson, who chairs the Selkirk Common Good Working Group of Scottish Borders Council, felt Dr Neil had “already gone quite far enough without consulting anyone”.
Councillor Kenneth Gunn noted Entec did not rule out the possibility of a windfarm on the South Common, near the Gala Rig.
“A community windfarm is a brilliant idea, but, at a time when Selkirk has little left other than tourism, the North Common is definitely the wrong place,” said Mr Gunn.
The Linglie Farm site is, concedes the report, in an aviation radar exclusion zone and could also impede the Ministry of Defence’s seismic measuring facility at Eskdalemuir which is equipped to monitor shockwaves from the detonation of nuclear weapons.
Dr Neil said the next stage of the process, subject to community support, would be to commission a full feasibility study.
By Andrew Keddie
13 July 2007
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