The under-fire boss of a renewable energy company has resigned following a backlash against homophobic remarks he posted on social media.
Matt Braund, the Inverness-based project development manager of ABO Wind UK, quit yesterday but accused anti-wind farm campaigners of “despicable” behaviour.
They had called for him to step down after it emerged he had posted the remarks on Facebook.
“It gives me great sadness to be leaving a company that I have worked so hard with for the past number of years,” said Mr Braund in a statement.
“My resignation is in part due to the adverse effect my private comments have had on one of our projects within the Highlands.”
ABO Wind UK – a subsidiary of a German offshore wind company – is investing £390 million in the Highlands, including controversial plans for the 25-turbine Allt Carach development in Strathglass.
“I find it quite despicable that any group would sink to such low tactics to try and stop a project from going ahead,” said Mr Braund.
“This form of action will have no effect whatsoever on the desire of the company to submit a planning application for the development and to hopefully see it succeed to full operation.
“Given that I live in the area, I can no longer subject my family to any further intrusions on their right to carry on with their everyday lives free from any adverse reactions by a small minority towards them.”
Mr Braund insisted the postings did not reflect his true feelings.
“I have always prided myself on being a person who accepts anyone, no matter what creed, background, lifestyle, gender or ability,” he said. “I have been proud to support and encourage people to grow as professionals within ABO and our industry and I wish every success to ABO in the future.
“I would very much like to thank all of my friends, family and wider community for their support over the past week. Their kind comments have made this process much easier.”
ABO said it respected his decision and believed it was in the best interests of all parties.
“ABO Wind was very surprised and disappointed to learn that one of our employees had made such unacceptable comments on Facebook,” it said in a statement.
“We expect our employees to treat all members of the community with respect and tolerance. We cannot condone the comments made by Matt Braund. We believe that members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community deserve the same respect as the rest of the community. The same also applies to members of the disabled community.”
Lyndsey Ward, a leading campaigner against the Strathglass development, criticised Mr Braund’s parting description of anti-wind farm campaigners as “despicable”.
“To cast slurs against people who are trying to protect where they live is quite frankly despicable in itself,” she said.
She described the comments he had posted on social media as abhorrent and believed that ABO should take some of the responsibility for not having carried out background checks on its employee.