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We want a say on wind farm cash: Villagers fear council will hijack £1m pot  

Credit:  www.thisishullandeastriding.co.uk 9 December 2010 ~~

Angry villagers are fighting to hang on to an almost £1 million cash pot for having a wind farm on their doorstep.

There are fears that the compensation cash for Sancton, near Market Weighton, could be hijacked by East Riding Council.

Residents believed the money was their cash to spend in the village or nearby areas affected by the five huge wind turbines.

Now they have been told a legal agreement has to be drawn up by the council and the wind farm business to decide were the money is spent.

The council gave planning permission for the scheme to Cornwall Light & Power, now part of REG Windpower, which is providing the community fund.

Villager Stuart Hepworth, who negotiated the deal for Sancton, said: “For some reason the planning people are not making contact.

“We invited them to a recent public meeting to discuss the whole situation, but they failed to attend.

“If the agreement is not signed by the end of December, all of the money could be taken over by the council to spend on community projects anywhere.”

Mr Hepworth, chairman of Sancton Windfarm Action Team (Swat), negotiated £115,000 up front, and a £35,000 index linked yearly payment for the next 25 years.

Of the initial payment, villagers believed £65,000 had been ring-fenced for the village hall and church, with the remaining £50,000 earmarked for projects in the Village Plan, like tree planting.

He said: “It is our money because we are having to put up with a wind farm, but it now looks as if we will have no say in where it is spent.

“Even if the council has the powers to administer the community fund, they should be involving us at every stage along the way.

“My big fear is the council wants to hijack our pot of gold, and if that is the case it is nothing short of piracy.”

Villagers say the community fund must be spent in Sancton, or on anyone else affected by the turbines, like some outlying properties outside the parish.

They also want plans for the £115,000 payment to be spent in the village, to stand.

A council planning department spokesman said the developer of the Sancton wind farm had voluntarily offered a community fund.

He said: “This is being established, in line with national as well as local practice, through a legal agreement under Section 106 of the Town & Country Planning Act with the money transferred to the council.

“This agreement is still to be completed and how the money will be used cannot be pre-determined.

“However, as with other similar cases, a community liaison forum is being established to agree how the funding is spent.”

He added: “It is intended that this will be for the benefit of the parishes affected by the wind farm which are Sanction and North Newbald.”

No-one was available for comment at Cornwall Light & Power.

Source:  www.thisishullandeastriding.co.uk 9 December 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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