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Windfarm opponents claim: ‘we’ve been sidelined’

West Coast Energy has been rapped for reaching agreement to distribute potential profits from the Lingo Windfarm project to local communities.

The company announced last week that 10 per cent of the net profits from the scheme will go to projects in the community council areas of Carnbee and Arncroach, Largoward and District, Boarhills and Dunino as well as Cameron.

They say they have come to an agreement with “a progressive and positive group of local residents,” but two members of the Lingo Windfarm Community Benefit Forum have claimed that group has now been sidelined.

A resident, who has served on the forum, said there was disbelief and anger at last week’s announcement.

“Everybody thought that the Lingo Community Benefit Forum had been set up to decide these matters,” said the resident.

“People went along to a number of meetings in good faith, discussed proposals, made constructive suggestions and believed they were participating in a process of community engagement and consensus–building which would reach the best possible deal for the communities affected.

“Some of the people who joined the forum have been left feeling like patsies.

”Individual members were warned by lawyers and accountants that a 10 per cent profit share, although at first sight more lucrative, was no gift horse and meant considerable risk for any organisation signing up to it.

“The people who made this deal have no mandate at all from their communities to do so.

‘‘In my opinion, the bodies who officially represent the communities – the local community councils – have been treated with contempt.”

That assessment was backed up by Graham Lang, a member of the Lingo Windfarm Community Benefit Forum, who said the first he knew about the deal was when he received a letter from forum chairman Martin Dibley.

He claims the agreement was not discussed by all interested parties

“I recommended that the Forum ask the Communities Scotland Foundation for a presentation on how they managed benefits on behalf of communities impacted by windfarms as I thought they had valuable advice to give the group,” Mr Lang explained.

“I had no reply and so no uptake – I think that is a pity.

“What in effect has happened is a splinter group has formed outwith the full forum without discussion and I would have thought that went against the ethos West Coast Energy wish to generate of good public relations with the community at large.

“They may have reached an agreement with these parties and individuals but not with the forum at large and, while this announcement may engender some positive publicity, I am critical of the way they have gone about this.”