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£500,000 a year - a pot of gold, or just a sweetener?

A NORTH Sutherland community stands to gain up to half a million pounds a year in community benefit from wind farms, it emerged this week. But the "pot of gold" has failed to impress some Strathy residents who this week angrily dismissed it as a sweetener, aimed at making them accept major changes to their local landscape. ...The power company wants to build a £90 million, 35-turbine development on the north side of Strathy and a follow-up 77-turbine development on the south side of the forest.

A NORTH Sutherland community stands to gain up to half a million pounds a year in community benefit from wind farms, it emerged this week.

But the "pot of gold" has failed to impress some Strathy residents who this week angrily dismissed it as a sweetener, aimed at making them accept major changes to their local landscape.

The disgruntled locals pointed out that it was still only a fraction of what the developers and landowners would make from the wind power schemes.

There were also concerns that the money could cause resentment in neighbouring communities that would receive nothing.

Scottish and Southern Energy earlier this year applied for planning consent for two major wind farm schemes in the Strathy area.

The power company wants to build a 90 million, 35-turbine development on the north side of Strathy and a follow-up 77-turbine development on the south side of the forest.

If the venture goes ahead, it will be one of the biggest wind farms in the Highlands.

Local people expressed strong feelings against the developments at a public meeting held by Strathy and Armadale Community Council in February this year.

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A NORTH Sutherland community stands to gain up to half a million pounds a year in community benefit from wind farms, it emerged this week.

But the "pot of gold" has failed to impress some Strathy residents who this week angrily dismissed it as a sweetener, aimed at making them accept major changes to their local landscape.

The disgruntled locals pointed out that it was still only a fraction of what the developers and landowners would make from the wind power schemes.

There were also concerns that the money could cause resentment in neighbouring communities that would receive nothing.

Scottish and Southern Energy earlier this year applied for planning consent for two major wind farm schemes in the Strathy area.

The power company wants to build a £90 million, 35-turbine development on the north side of Strathy and a follow-up 77-turbine development on the south side of the forest.

If the venture goes ahead, it will be one of the biggest wind farms in the Highlands.

Local people expressed strong feelings against the developments at a public meeting held by Strathy and Armadale Community Council in February this year.

The community council held another meeting in Strathy Hall on Monday night to further discuss the proposals, and in particular community benefit.

North, West and Central Sutherland councillors Robbie Rowantree, Linda Munro and George Farlow attended, along with North Highland area corporate manager Ian Hargrave, who chaired the meeting, and ward manager Andy Mackay.

Mr Hargrave said community benefit from wind farms which had already come on stream was presently around £2000 per megawatt per year, although the council hoped to push this up to £5000.

One of the planned wind farms at Strathy would have an 80 megawatt installed capacity and the other 170 megawatts, making the community benefit from both around £500,000.

Farr High School head teacher and local resident Jim A Johnston was present at the meeting.

He said: "Some people there expressed distaste for the profit element and felt that, while the developer's hand-out might seem generous, it would represent a mere fraction of the generation income.

"They felt it was merely a sweetener intended to ensure that the enormous change to the appearance of the area, and possible restriction on its future potential for other less obtrusive projects, would pass by without too much fuss from the locals."

Mr Johnston said there was some discussion as to what the term "community" meant and how the extent of a community could be determined.

He said: "It was felt there was considerable potential for divisiveness in these developments as adjacent communities could find themselves at odds if one had access to the 'pot of gold' while the next did not."

Strathy community councillors expressed concern about taking on the role of negotiating community benefit. They were worried that they might be seen to be agreeing to the development and therefore lose the confidence of the community.

Mr Hargrave agreed at the meeting to ask Scottish and Southern Energy exactly what was on offer as regards community benefit for Strathy. He said that once the offer was revealed it should be scrutinised closely by the community council and other interested parties.



Source: http://www.northern-times.c...

NOV 1 2007
https://www.windaction.org/posts/11722-500-000-a-year-a-pot-of-gold-or-just-a-sweetener
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