Referring to your article of 20th January (“Scottish Energy reject wind farm cash appeal”) on the community benefit to be paid by SSE to Brora, Golspie, Helmsdale, and Rogart, I would like to comment.
We in the Kiltarlity area are campaigning against one of the largest wind farms in the Highlands – 28 turbines at 150 metres in height.
Much public sway towards supporting this development tends to happen because of the suggested, but badly defined, “community benefit”.
In our efforts to expose the realities of “community benefit”, I formulated a breakdown of our developer’s proposed £8 million over 25 years.
First of all, the £8 million paid by wind farm developers will be more than likely subject to the Highland Council’s creaming off of 40 per cent, under the proposed Pan-Highland Community Fund.
This leaves the communities with £4.8 million.
This amount over 25 years, if divided equally between the TEN communities that are eligible, works out at £19,200.
The 10 communities, including Inverness West, have a population total of around 20,000.
This means the amount per capita per annum is in the region of £9.60.
Our electricity bills are rising at a rate of 30 per cent per year (judging by my personal electricity bills). This is mainly to fund the Renewable Obligations Certificate – which is the real reason wind farms are being developed.
The community benefit paid by developers is not a generous contribution made to us by them.
It is our money being dribbled back to us, in very, very small amounts (compare annual electricity bills to benefit amount per capita and average household numbers), behind the facade of “generosity”.
One other thing to bear in mind is that any compensation or buy-outs that the company must make to “appease” future wind farm neighbours is also creamed off the top of the £8 million before distribution via approved applications.
I would also like to comment on the SSE’s remark that wind farm developers are NOT obliged to pay community benefit. They are not obliged, but it is suggested and encouraged in major planning applications, such as wind farms.
It is in every wind farm company’s interest to ensure their application ticks all the boxes. It is in the Highland Council’s interest to ensure they get their 40 per cent.
Community benefit may be an even bigger scam than wind farms.
Denise Davis, White House, Ardblair, Inverness-shire.
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