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Windfarm claims kick up a storm in Uplawmoor

A windfarm which starred in a film about renewable energy has been labelled an “embarrassment” by local residents.

Friends of the Earth Scotland last week launched a new film documenting some of the “best examples” of community owned and operated renewables from across Scotland including the Neilston Community Wind Farm.

The Barrhead News revealed how community power campaigner Anne Schiffer had insisted that money from the wind farm will help with regenerating the village centre.

However, one Uplawmoor woman has disputed her claims, suggesting that the windfarm is “far from a shining example.”

Aileen Jackson, of Knockglass, said: “I was astounded to read last week’s article in The Barrhead News regarding Neilston Community Windfarm, which is located in Uplawmoor.

“Alan Walker is quoted as saying: ‘Rather than the money from the windfarm just going to the developer and large companies, it is going to the community.’ Which one exactly? Not Uplawmoor, which is most affected by the development.

“Uplawmoor residents, who deluged East Renfrewshire Council’s planning department with objections to the windfarm for which they had received no notification by either the developers or ERC, sought some form of financial benefit for the community once operation started, as compensation for the much worse than predicted impact of the development.”

Turbines have divided opinion in the area in recent years as more developments have sprung up across the authority.

Some Neilston residents and Uplawmoor residents objected to the building of the Neilston Community Windfarm, while East Renfrewshire also plays host to part of Europe’s biggest onshore windfarm, Whitelee near Eaglesham.

Campaigners argued that, as well as their visual impact on the rural andscape, low frequency noise generated by the turbines can also have a massive impact on a resident’s physical and mental wellbeing.

Ms Jackson, however, lambasted the claims, describing the placing of the windfarm as “a very difficult process” for locals in the area.

She added: “The partnership agreement between the developers was drafted with the specific intention that this would displace any community benefit which might otherwise have been offered locally, and that therefore there is no scope to consider additional benefits for Uplawmoor.

“This has clearly been a very difficult and sensitive process with lessons to be learned for all of us – in terms of engagement, dialogue and transparency. We will certainly reflect on those from our perspective In April this year the Scottish Government, Good Practice Principles for Community Benefit for Onshore Renewable Energy Developments was published.

“The Chair of Local Energy Scotland, who took part in the informal stakeholder group and informed the development of the document, contacted Uplawmoor residents by email to explain it was ‘intended to help safeguard communities against experiences such as yours.’ Far from being a shining example, the Neilston Community Windfarm must be an embarrassment to a government which is aiming to promote community owned and operated renewables.”

A spokeswoman for the council said: “We followed all the proper procedures including taking out press adverts and public notices in local papers. We also sent a written notification to all neighbours. A proper consultation took place and the Neilston Community Windfarm application was considered by and approved by the planning committee.”