Members of a West Stirlingshire community council are questioning how potential “community benefits” of £7.2million would be shared out regarding the Ard Ghaoth windfarm.
Strathblane Community Council has yet to take a formal stance on the windfarm but says the projected total over its 25 year life is currently proposed to be split between five communities, with Gartmore and Drymen receiving the lion’s share at 30 per cent each.
And they say this equates to an annual income of between £67,000 to £111,000, which is “not to be sniffed at” given that most community councils only win a few thousand pounds a year at best from available grants.
The issue of how the “pot” should be divided, however, was an issue discussed by the community council last week.
Community councillor Philip Graves told the Observer: “I had written our opposition letter to the proposed Ballindalloch windfarm near Balfron and also the response to Stirling Council’s consultation on windfarm policy three years ago.
“In this I pointed out how the impact on the landscape of the Braes of Doune wind farm could be seen many miles away, yet in Doune, recipient of community benefits, the windfarm was not visible. Is Ard Ghaoth likely to be similar?
“No doubt there are a number of houses in the countryside that would have a clear view of the turbines and would also suffer during construction work, but it seems unlikely the windfarm will be visible from Drymen village itself.
“Should those further afield in villages such as Strathblane receive compensation for the landscape impact, even if relatively far away?
“Should children who take the bus from Strathblane to Balfron or commuters to Stirling receive compensation for the change in the northerly views from the A81/A875? Where do you draw the boundary?
“Local councillors can be easily persuaded to support a local windfarm if generous community benefits have swayed the local community, despite the application arguably having negative consequences beyond the local community.
“Fortunately Ard Ghaoth is located in a very large local government constituency and the elected Stirling councillors are more likely to judge the wider impact of the windfarm.”
He added: “One solution would be to take large windfarms out of the local government planning system completely.
“Central government could decide on appropriate sites on a national basis and agree compensation terms for local communities; the Scottish Government already decides all applications for big sites.
“Of course all this might prove totally academic as Stirling Council guidance on windfarms dictates that in the Drymen area turbines must be less than 50m high, as against the 115m proposed by Banks Renewables.”
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