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Windfarm developer dangles £7.2 million carrot to community

Developers behind controversial windfarm plans near Drymen say their community benefit package of £7.2 million could be one of the biggest ever in Scotland.

Banks Renewables says the estimated sum would be ploughed into the rural community as part of its Ard Ghaoth scheme.

Charities, youth groups and voluntary organisations are among those who could benefit.

The company recently halved the proposed number of turbines to 10 – although objectors claim reduction in turbines is a typical ploy of windfarm developers – and said that the contribution as a percentage of the gross revenue of the proposed scheme has doubled.

Director Colin Anderson said: “We are delighted to have worked with the people living around our Ard Ghaoth site to come up with a genuinely innovative solution to delivering long-lasting benefits to local communities, which has been driven by what local people actually want.

“It perfectly demonstrates what our development with care approach is all about and will be worth about £7.2 million to the local community, who now have a very real stake in the Ard Ghaoth development.

“As part of the package the community’s share will be placed into a dedicated community fund, with the average annual payment over the life of the site expected to be around £288,000.

“This equates to £7,206,000 worth of funds available to community projects throughout the 25-year life span of the windfarm, which could be delivered in partnership with surrounding communities, reflecting their own priorities.”

The site straddles two farms owned and operated by local families.

Husband and wife Shona and Bruce Duncan are involved in running Blairfad Farm. Mrs Duncan said: “Renewable energy will be crucial to Scotland in the coming years but before we considered using part of our land for a windfarm we thoroughly checked the credentials of the developer.

“We were reassured by the work of Banks Renewables, who have been transparent and supportive and listened to local views throughout their engagement with the community.”

Neighbour Jane Harrower at Craigievern Farm added: “This isn’t just about clean, green energy for Scotland. It also helps us to reinvest in further rural development in the local area. The fact our local community will really benefit from the wind farm is brilliant news. We are really thrilled to be part of this and delighted the wider community now has such a major stake in the success of the development.”