Businessman claims voters have rejected community wind farm plan

A BUSINESSMAN who waged a personal campaign against the region’s first community wind farm being developed in Selkirk has demanded that the project should now be ditched.

“It would be grave injustice should any organisation show its contempt for the wishes of the majority by proposing wind farms at any of the proposed sites,” said Peter Field.

He was responding to last week’s Southern which revealed the results of postal ballot carried out by the charitable Selkirk Regeneration Company (SRC).

Ahead of the recent vote, Mr Field printed hundreds of flyers, urging the 7,000 people living in the TD7 postcode area of Selkirkshire – the constitutional bailiwick of SRC – to reject all three proposed sites. As it turned out, the total votes cast was 949, including an unknown number of young people born before August 2001, who were also eligible to have their say.

In its press release after the Royal Mail had completed the counting process, SRC said 603 (63 per cent) had “voted positively”, while 364 (37 per cent) had voted against any of the options. Although some voters had voted yes for more than one option, SRC revealed that 394 had plumped for option one (the largest development on private land north of the town), 391 had gone for option two and 389 chose option three – both being smaller developments on the town’s South Common.

But Mr Field stressed that, given that the questions on each option asked the public to vote yes or no then, by definition, 555, 558 and 560 people had voted against the respective options.

“This is an unequivocal rejection of each proposal,” he told us. “SRC should now consider its position and perhaps concentrate on alternative fundraising projects that do not divide the community as its foray into wind turbine territory clearly has.”

But SRC director Lindsay Neil said: “What we have been given is affirmed approval for the establishment of wind power to benefit our community, although admittedly we have been given no clear steer on which option to go for.

“The directors will take soundings from our 100-strong membership at our annual general meeting on April 25 before deciding how to proceed. The next stage will be to take our selected proposal to the planning stage.”

Dr Neil added: “A Scottish Government loan to SRC, only repayable if and when income, as well as electricity, is generated, will underwrite that cost, although there can be no guarantee that planning consent will be granted.”