COMMUNITY cash generated by the controversial Fallago Rig wind farm is vital to the environmental management of the Borders, according the group that has been given the job of handling the money, Tweed Forum, which has revealed that grants will be available throughout the Borders.
Work on constructing the 48 turbines in the Lammermuirs is due to start soon and they are expected to be producing power in the autumn of next year.
The project is being spearheaded by Roxburghe Estates, North British Windpower and EDF Renewables, and they have confirmed that Tweed Forum will manage the £240,000 a year that will be made available by way of grants to schemes across the Borders.
The forum says the cash will be vital new funding which will be channelled into environmental projects.
Tweed Forum is a charitable trust and umbrella organisation whose remit is to promote the sustainable use of the River Tweed and its tributaries as well as protecting and enhancing the natural, built and cultural heritage of the area.
Plans for Fallago Rig attracted major opposition and led to two public inquiries. A leading objector was the Ministry of Defence which later withdrew its opposition. In November last year Scotland’s energy minister Jim Mather gave Holyrood’s approval.
Opponents claimed he had ridden roughshod over their objections but the minister flagged up Fallago Rig as a centrepiece of the country’s renewable legacy.
This week Tweed Forum’s chairman, Bob Kay, said the farm fund would be of profound importance for many years ahead.
He said: “Not only is the funding relatively long term, but the legacy it will leave will last for generations. It is particularly welcome when the financial climate is extremely harsh and communities and organisations are struggling to secure monies to carry out such work.”
Roddy Jackson of Roxburghe Estates said that because of the scale of the development, it was keen to see the benefits spread across a wider area than was normally the case with windfarms.
He added: “It also seemed appropriate that the revenue derived from a renewable source was invested back into the environment of the region, one of our greatest assets.”
Forum director Luke Comins added: “Whilst it will not be until early 2013 that the funding comes on stream, we are working closely with both the estate and the developers to draw up grant criteria and administrative procedures which will be publicised in due course.
“However, what we can say is that the funding will be £240,000 per annum and will be open to the whole of the Scottish Borders.”
Meanwhile, the results of a survey of residents in the Eddleston area on a proposal for a six-turbine windfarm by Lomond Energy at Spurlens Rig near Leadburn are due to be released next week. Ian Wilmut, chairman of Eddleston Community Council, said that the level of responses to questionnaires was high.
Residents have also been asked for their views on a ground-breaking proposal by the company to offer affected communities a one-sixth share of the entire development. If local communities can together raise £700,000 for a share, it would net them £120,000 a year.