Communities seek to maximise wind farm windfall

IF a controversial wind farm development on scenic farmland at Broadmeadows near Selkirk goes ahead, the town and two neighbouring communities could be in line for community benefits of around £50,000 a year, writes Andrew Keddie.

But at last week’s meeting of Selkirk community council, vice-chairman Dr Lindsay Neil said negotiations were pending with renewable energy company Green Power for an even bigger share of the revenue which will accrue over the 25-year lifespan of the wind farm.

Dr Neil, along with chairman Gordon Edgar and planning sub-committee chairman Ian King, attended a meeting in Selkirk with representatives of the community councils of Clovenfords and Ettrick and Yarrow.

The purpose of the gathering was to forge a united approach to talks with the company which has submitted plans for eight turbines with a generating capacity of 18MW.

Dr Neil said that Green Power was under no obligation to give any of its profits to local communities, but most wind farm developers did so, with typical payments ranging from 0.5 to 1.5 per cent of revenue.

Applied to the Broadmeadows wind farm, this would imply that around £50,000 per annum would be shared among the three communities.

Although planning consent for the venture has yet to be granted, the community councils were committed, regardless of their views on siting a wind farm in such a prominent, scenic area, to getting maximum benefit if the development comes to fruition and this would be reflected in negotiations with the company.

It has been agreed to investigate the possibility of the charitable Scottish Community Foundation administering the income of behalf of the three communities who would get an equal share of the cash benefits.