Two Dumfriesshire politicians are “strongly opposed” to the controversial proposed Scoop Hill windfarm development.
MP David Mundell and his MSP son Oliver spoke out as they visited an exhibition on Saturday which was staged by the campaign group, Save Our Hills Moffat, to highlight “the ramifications” of the proposed 75-turbine scheme.
It is being described as “the highest in Scotland” and the turbines would be visible from Moffat, Beattock, Lockerbie, Lochmaben and the M74.
Developers Community Windpower Limited are planning to erect 22 turbines with a maximum tip height of up to 250m; two at 225m, 47 at 200m and four at 180m – making them all bigger than Blackpool Tower which stands 158m tall.
Mr Mundell Snr said: “The proposed development would see the building of the tallest wind turbines in the UK, ranging from 180m to 250m in height, and would have a significant and very damaging effect on the character of the surrounding area.
“It’s true that the proposed windfarm could make a contribution to the local economy and there’s also the prospect of ongoing community benefit payments, but at the end of the day the damage to the natural heritage of the area is just too great to justify allowing the development to go ahead.
“There are already a thousand wind turbines across Annandale and, in the interests of the local landscape and protecting the area’s amenity for residents and visitors, we do not need another 75 large turbines built on Moffat’s doorstep.
“That’s why I’m opposing the Scoop Hill development.”
Moffat and District Community Council is holding its own public consultation on the proposed windfarm and wants responses from the public by the end of tomorrow to give members time to meet the statutory consultation deadline at the end of August.
They have set up an online site at https://mdcc.scot/virtual-exhibition/ and it includes a feedback form.
The community council has also distributed 1,500 leaflets through letterboxes around the community which contain a feedback form to record householders’ views and need to be returned to a ballot box in the Town Hall. Additional leaflets can be obtained from AM Grieves Newsagents.
Mr Mundell Jnr is also backing the campaign against the proposed development.
He said: “If this is given the green light, it would see a further 22 square miles of scenic hill areas in Annandale covered with wind turbines.
“There is no way that a development on that scale could be anything other than damaging to the environment and ultimately to the vital Upper Annandale tourism economy, no matter what other incentives are on offer.”
However, Community Windpower insists the project would “significantly support the green recovery, provide hundreds of jobs, and help the region tackle the climate emergency”.
The developers have stated that the scheme would bring an economic investment of £1.8 billion and has the backing of businesses across the region which rely on infrastructure projects to support jobs.
Among those are Grange Quarry and Concrete, AMD Contract Services Ltd and RJ McLeod, which employ hundreds of people to work on the construction phase of onshore windfarms and many more indirectly in the supply chain.
A spokesman for Community Windpower said: “The benefits of this project are not just limited to directly supporting jobs during the post-Covid green recovery, it will also stimulate wider economic growth across the region and deliver 40 years of inward investment and contribute a total of £262.4m in business rates to Dumfries and Galloway Council.
“This money can support the provision of vital local services and facilities, in turn helping to improve education, employment and socio economics for the local authority area. In addition, £20 million in community benefits will go directly into the local area over the next 40 years.”
The developer also hopes to create a visitor centre for Scoop Hill which would run as a not-for-profit venture with any income directed back to running costs and supporting the local community.
The firm is holding its own public consultation exhibitions, with the first taking place yesterday in Moffat Town Hall.
The rest are set for Wednesday, July 14, 11am to 7.30pm, at Beattock Village Hall; Thursday, July 15, 10am to 4pm in Wamphray Village Hall; and Wednesday, July 21, 11am to 7.30pm in Johnstonebridge Community Centre.
The developers also have a video of their plans to view at https://youtu.be/zQ4T9m_5OpY, or via their website at www.scoophillwindfarm.co.uk.
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