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Aberfeldy Community Council concerned windfarm money may leave the area

New funding rules will mean Aberfeldy having to share money from a new windfarm development with the rest of the county.

SSE, the company behind the new Calliacher windfarm near the town, has adopted new rules about how goodwill payments are to be distributed.

Under the new policy around £80,000 goes to communities directly affected by the Calliacher windfarm but the same again will go to projects in other parts of Perth and Kinross.

At a recent meeting of the Aberfeldy Community Council anger was expressed that money will be given to areas that are untouched by the construction work and where many people have never even heard of the scheme.

A new policy adopted by SSE states that from January 2012 all new schemes will give half to the local community and half to ‘Perth and Kinross generally’.

The company says the new policy is more generous.

Ross Easton, an SSE spokesman, told The PA: “While £2000 for every megawatt generated by the Griffin scheme was put into a community fund, now we’ll additionally be contributing £2500 for every megawatt generated by Calliacher and other new schemes in the county.”

Work began last month to construct Calliacher Windfarm. There is planning permission for 14 turbines at the site.

Less than a mile away, Griffin Windfarm was completed in the autumn.

SSE pledged a ‘softener’ of £300,000 a year to be used to benefit the local community.

The money has been widely welcomed by groups and organisations which applied to receive a share.

The Birks Cinema project got £100,000 from the fund and Tayside Mountain Rescue benefited to the tune of £20,000.

Ross Easton said the money in the new regional fund is to “offer strategic projects to develop skills, create community energy schemes and to improve the built environment”.

SSE pointed out that the fund is a goodwill gesture, not compensation. It says it had no obligation to hand out any money.

People in Aberfeldy are disappointed about the company’s change of policy.

Aberfeldy Community Council wants a meeting with SSE to convey its concerns to the company.

Chairman Eric Slorance urged those at the meeting to write to their councillors in Perth.

He said: “We need to get them to argue for 100% of the Calliacher windfarm money to be ring-fenced for use in and around Aberfeldy.”

Mr Slorance asked local councillor Mike Williamson if he would be willing to bring the matter to John Swinney’s attention.

Cllr Williamson agreed he would speak to the cabinet secretary for finance, employment and sustainable growth.