Full consultation promised over first community wind farm

THE people of Selkirk will be fully involved in decisions which could see the town become the first in the region to benefit from its own community wind farm, writes Andrew Keddie.

That commitment was given by the Selkirk Regeneration Company which, as reported last week, has been awarded a £140,000 sustainable energy loan by the Scottish Government for a two-megawatt wind installation.

Back in 2009, the company, which has charitable status, held a referendum in the town, gaining 56 per cent approval to progress “the development of a wind farm of up to six turbines on the town’s North Common”.

That size of the loan and its stipulation on generating capacity means the project will be of a smaller-scale and the company has now offered assurances that the people of the town would be fully consulted as the project progresses.

“This funding will enable us to undertake a comprehensive consultation across the TD7 postcode area to determine the best size and location for a small wind farm to take forward into a planning application,” said SRC director Lawrence Robertson.

He added: “The next few months will see an exciting conversation about how to make the most of Selkirk’s natural assets to bring a real benefit to the area for current and future generations.”

Already site and environmental investigations are planned to the north and south of the town and Mr Roberston said the choice of site to take forward will only be made after a series of information events. There will also be a dedicated project website.

Fellow SRC director Dr Lindsay Neil told us: “After five years of work and debate about wind power, this is a great opportunity for our town to take the lead in southern Scotland by developing a truly community-owned energy resource.

“This is a loan we only pay back if the project gets support from the community and succeeds in being granted planning permission.”

Over the next few months, SRC will form a liason group representing local interests, including the common riding, and potential beneficiaries of funds generated over the lifetime of the development.

Dr Neil added: “The SRC wants a mix of enthusiasm, expertise and ideas to ensure this project is truly driven by the people, for the people.”