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Firth windfarm plans consultation extension call

The Scottish Government has bowed to pressure and given people more time to comment on offshore windfarm development plans for the Solway Firth.

The consultation period was yesterday extended until the end of September.

Energy minister Jim Mather reacted following pressure from Galloway MSP Alex Fergusson.

Mr Fergusson said he had “never experienced such a reaction to any proposal in 11 years of involvement in this constituency”.

The backlash prompted him to lobby the minister over the “disgracefully short” consultation timescale.

The closing date for the public to put forward their views on the Draft Plan for Offshore Wind Energy was Monday.

Two public sessions at Dumfries and Wigtown were held last week. But it is only in the last month or so the full extent of proposals have become apparent.

The council has already voiced reservations at what is contained in the plan. It would see Robin Rigg more than doubled in size with a massive development coming within four miles of Wigtown Bay in the short term. Longer term plans would see six more farms clustered around the Mull of Galloway, Luce Bay and off Wigtown Bay.

Mr Fergusson said: “Following the two public meetings in Dumfries and Wigtown 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 e-mails I have received on the subject, nor did anyone else.

“I 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 he had asked officials to comply with my request.”