Most members of a regeneration group were unaware that a report into the region’s first community windfarm on a prominent site outside Selkirk had been commissioned on its behalf by its chairman.
I’d been tipped off, but others had no idea this had been done in their name until the study was released earlier this month,” said Peter Field, secretary of the Selkirk Regeneration Group.
And he claimed that, with the exception of chairman Dr Lindsay Neil, no-one in his organisation wanted to take the controversial proposal any further.
“We have washed our hands of the whole crazy idea which is a recipe for community discord and fracture,” said Mr Field.
As reported last week, consultants Entec looked at Common Good land around Selkirk and selected the promient North Common as the preferred site for a three- or four-turbine facility. Capable of generating 6MW, it could yield income of up to £1.7million a year if the electricity was sold to the National Grid.
Now, Dr Neil wants a public meeting to decide if the project should be the subject of a full feasibility study, costing around £10,000.
But, said Mr Field, even that would be “a disaster for Selkirk and its community”.
“Right now we can walk away from this project without having invested serious money. The only certain way to stop this is to ensure it never reaches the feasibility study stage.”
He went on: “Few people take a neutral stance on windfarms, with strong, almost religious fervour both for and against. Such polarisation is harmful and, once established, hard to reverse.
“To consider placing turbines in Selkirk’s own backyard beggars belief. Visually, they would have a serious impact on the town’s historic, cultural and recreational facilities and would sorely damage the very landscape Souters cherish.”
Dr Neil defended his decision to commission the report, claiming any body concerned with town regeneration had a duty to consider how to maximise much-needed income from its Common Good assets.
“I welcome reasoned and informed comment on the windfarm proposal from any quarter. At present, 35 communites across Scotland are at various stages of development of wind projects, inspired by anticipated benefits.”
He said the public meeting was due to take place in the week August 20 to 24. Confirmed speakers include Kevin Dickson, from the Highland and Islands Community Energy Company.
By Andrew Keddie
19 July 2007
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