Wind farms are a frequently-discussed topic in Berwickshire, and an audience member wanted to know whether candidates were “for or against wind farms in this constituency”?
Kicking off the discussion, Lib Dem candidate Jim Hume said: “We are for renewable energy, but this area has done more than its fair share. 52% of energy is used for heating homes, and our focus should be more on heat loss prevention rather than different ways of how to produce energy.
A mixed supply of energy sources would be Conservative John Lamont’s choice. “Our energy supply should be as mixed and well balanced as possible,” he said.
“It should be mixed with other forms, not just the Scottish Government’s obsession with wind. The Borders has more than its fair share.
“When you have an application and it’s rejected by the community and the local council and then it’s overturned by the Scottish Government – 56% got overturned – that’s not respecting local views.
“There is support for wind farms but there are clearly concerns.”
SNP candidate Paul Wheelhouse supports the Scottish Government’s wind energy policy “in the right place”.
“I would say the debate should be what kind of wind farms we have and who owns them,” added Mr Wheelhouse. “When a community owns it, the revenue flows to the community for social use, harbour improvements, new roads etc.
“We could do more to help communities take it into their own hands.”
The majority of the list candidates admitted to knowing little about the wind farm situation in Berwickshire, but Sarah Beattie Smith of the Green party said: “The scale we have seen across the south of Scotland isn’t always appropriate where they are.
“We need small scale community wind farms. One of the great ironies of how we have done it is that the big six energy companies own them.
“SSE made billions of pounds in profit yet people who are in fuel poverty are looking out of their homes at these wind farms.
“We need a change in who owns our energy system.”