‘BUY SILENCE’ — Wind farm chiefs ‘offered Scots homeowners more than £100k each’ not to oppose to 44-turbine site, it’s been claimed
Wind farm chiefs offered seven homeowners more than £100,000 each not to object to a planned 44- turbine site, it is claimed.
Seven residents stood to receive an annual payment of £3,000 during the 35-year lifespan of a the Sanquhar II project proposed by energy firm Community Windpower.
But documents reveal that in return for a “contribution” to annual energy costs, residents would agree “not to make any complaint or raise an action for statutory nuisance or common law nuisance against the company whatsoever”.
Residents would have been sworn to secrecy over the scheme, proposed for the border of Dumfries and Galloway and East Ayrshire, under a non-disclosure clause.
But none accepted the deal.
A homeowner who fears they would spoil his views said he refused 35 yearly “contributions” of £3,000 over the farm’s lifespan.
He said: “No money would replace the scenery and views of the area. Community Windpower were attempting to buy our silence.”
The Sanquhar II wind farm will consist of 44 turbines, most of them 200m tall.
Details of the financial offer will be aired this week at a public inquiry into the Sanquhar proposal.
Oliver Mundell, the Scottish Conservative MSP for Dumfriesshire, said there is “suspicion” that cash offers are widespread.
He added: “It looks as though this particular company is keen to game the planning system and this could be the tip of the iceberg.
“At a time when we are constantly being told about the benefits of green energy, it is hugely disappointing that the actions of this company have put a black mark against the renewables sector.”
A lawyer familiar with onshore wind schemes in Scotland said “cash inducements” are becoming more common as industrial-scale turbines creep closer to residential dwellings due to a lack of suitable land.
Campaigners fighting a rapid government-backed expansion of onshore wind claim that developers are riding roughshod over rural communities who often find they lack the money, expertise and legal support of energy firms.
Submissions to a parliamentary petition calling for greater support for affected communities include complaints that lawyers acting for energy firms have bullied objectors and “assassinated” their characters during public inquiries.
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