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Windfarm community benefit payments fall short of council demands

Windfarm developers are short changing communities with their cash agreements.

Payments fall behind levels set by the council and now a move is afoot to beef them up by turning agreements into requirements.

Council bosses want to make a Section 75 Agreement part of any future planning permissions they grant.

That would mean developers signing up to community benefit contributions in line with the council’s policy.

The planning, housing and environment services committee is being asked to agree the move to ensure developer’s “make the appropriate financial contribution in accordance with the council’s community benefits from wind farms policy”.

Economic development boss Ewan Green will tell members: “At present the policy is implemented through negotiation and voluntary agreement. The policy is not legally enforceable and developers cannot be required to comply with it.

“As a result the current outcomes being achieved are providing less funding for community benefits than the levels set in the council’s agreed policy.”

Mr Green points out more wind farm schemes are at various stages in the planning pipeline.

“These could provide substantial levels of funding for both local and strategic community benefit if the council policy can be fully implemented.

“As an illustration, Kilgallioch, a 288 MW scheme north east of New Luce, alone could provide up to £1.44 million annually for local and strategic community benefit.”

Members will be told other local authorities are moving in the same direction.

The Scottish Government determines windfarm applications of more than50 MW and consequently they would have to be informed if the Section 75 Agreement suggested is accepted and asked to take account of the council policy.