Fife Council will save around £10million by ditching their wind energy plans and they’ll use the money to help fund equal pay claims.
At one stage, they considered building turbines at Pittencrieff Park and Public Park in Dunfermline, as well as schools and sports centres, to create energy and raise revenue.
But with more than 1400 low-paid female workers owed an estimated £50m-plus in backdated pay and compensation, the cash-strapped council has changed track.
A report explained that their energy plans won’t be as profitable as they hoped and project manager Fenella McEwan said: “The remainder of the proposed wind power projects will no longer provide return at a level which mitigates the risk of substantial investment within a subsidy scheme that provides no certainty of support.”
As a result, she added: “A total capital allocation of £11.2m was made for the wind power projects, £1.5m is allocated for the wind turbine at the Lower Melville Wood landfill site and £9.7m will not be required.”
In 2014, there were plans to build a turbine in both of Dunfermline’s historic parks, Pitreavie playing fields, Dalgety Bay sports and leisure centre and Inverkeithing High School.
They were eventually dropped but sites at Halbeath park and ride, two former bings at Blairhall, farmland at Lilliehill near Townhill, Cowdenbeath and Auchtertool were still under consideration until last week.
A turbine has been constructed at Lower Melville Wood, near Ladybank, but at the executive committee councillors agreed that no more will be built.
They also decided that “previously committed balances in relation to wind power and reforming Fife’s public services now be utilised for the settlement of equal pay claims”.
The idea behind the council’s energy scheme was to raise £11.75m and save jobs, with the electricity used in council buildings to help reduce carbon emissions and cut energy bills.
The Feed-in-Tariff scheme provides financial support for small-scale renewable energy projects, such as those using solar and wind power, and requires the ‘big six’ energy companies to pay a subsidy and but the electricity at a guaranteed price.
However, there have been changes since the inception of the scheme in 2012 and a review in December confirmed there will be “significant” reductions in subsidy and less support.
The historic equal pay claims, many date back to 2006, will wipe out the council’s reserves and they’re already facing a budget deficit of £38m in 2016-17.
The Labour administration will try and set a budget on Thursday February 25.
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