The elected members of the Wigtown Area Committee sent a warning shot across the bows of the Scottish Government on Wednesday when they unanimously recorded their total and unequivocal objection to the idea of an offshore windfarm in Wigtown Bay.
Meanwhile, as the meeting in Wigtown County Buildings got under way, Galloway MSP Alex Fergusson was busy securing a six-week extension to the consultation process, originally due to finish on Monday, from Jim Mather, the Scottish Minister for Enterprise, Energy & Tourism after communities that could be affected were up in arms over the lack of time given to prepare a response.
Mr Fergusson said he had never experienced such a reaction to any proposal in 11 years of involvement in his constituency: “It was quite clear that the closing date for submissions of August 16 was totally unacceptable.
“Vague assurances were given by officials at both meetings that late submissions would be accepted as long as the authors had registered their interests first but I could not accept those assurances as being satisfactory and, judging from the emails I have received on the subject, nor did anyone else. I therefore e-mailed the Minister directly, robustly requesting a formal extension to the consultation until at least the end of September, giving a further six weeks for submissions to be tabled. I also asked that the requirement to register an interest be removed.
“I was delighted to receive an immediate response stating that the Minister had asked officials to comply with my request.”
As part of that consultation process, a packed meeting on Wednesday saw concerned representatives of shoreline communities and businesses hear that the Government’s draft plan for a short-term windfarm in Wigtown Bay could see approximately 90 turbines more than 100 metres high dominate familiar Galloway sea views by 2014 as part of the Government commitment to generating 50 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
But councillors were incredulous that the report before them had no assessment of the impact a windfarm would have on the tourism, commercial and recreational fishing and the leisure craft industry, or any information of other sources of renewable energy – such as wave power.
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