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Fears as wind farm backer 'pulls out'

Worried local residents are demanding answers after it was reported a major backer of Perthshire’s biggest wind farm plan has abandoned the project.

Griffin wind farm, near Aberfeldy, was to be jointly funded by GreenPower and multinational power giant General Electric, but reports have stated the latter has dropped its 50% interest in the scheme.

Although it was expected a new backer would have been found by now, it is understood a funding shortfall still exists in a time of increasing global financial uncertainty, throwing the massive project into doubt.

However, any project has several years to begin after approval.

Residents are furious there has been silence since the Scottish Government granted permission for the 68-turbine scheme earlier this year after a public inquiry triggered by council objections.

The wind farm is fiercely opposed by local people who claim the 114-metre turbines will blight the landscape and ruin tourism.

Anne Lindsay, of Amulree and Strathbraan Windfarm Action Group (ASWAG), said, “Since this was announced, we have heard nothing.

“After the consent was granted in February there was a flurry of information regarding starting dates, which were to be the autumn of this year.

“ASWAG, in fact have never heard another word about anything—so much for local consultation.

“No owner of ground adjacent to the A822 road has even been approached and this land is essential and required for lay-bys in accordance with the stipulations in the consent.

“If indeed General Electric have pulled the plug on this, how much has this cost us and the taxpayer in terms of pubic inquiries?”

GreenPower say the site will provide 204MW of power, enough for up to 176,000 homes, and cut carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere by 560,000 tonnes.

It would also provide employment including 12 full-time staff and a pair of full-time rangers for the life of the project.

Construction was expected to begin towards the end of this year with a completion date in 2010 pencilled-in.

It is thought the whole project will cost around £200 million.

Respected industry journal Renewable Energy News reported contracting will be launched once a new joint venture partner is found, although initial discussions with turbine manufacturers are under way.

RE News suggests Danish company Dong Energy is a strong contender to get involved, having bought into GreenPower’s 36MW Broadmeadows scheme last year.

No one was available to comment on behalf of GreenPower yesterday.

At the time Griffin was given the green light, energy minister Jim Mather called it “an important milestone in the government’s energy strategy in Scotland.”

Several local politicians have said it should be the final wind farm allowed in Perthshire.

Tomorrow, a motion by councillor Barbara Vaughan will be debated by Perth and Kinross Council calling for the construction to have as little impact as possible on residents’ lives.

By Alan Richardson

The Courier

29 April 2008