Sup­port all, not lucky few

The Galloway News - - GALLOW@Y VIEW - Cliff Robert­son Cas­tle Dou­glas

Sir – Your “Con­fu­sion over wind­farm cash” ar­ti­cle of Septem­ber 27 told how the lucky few’s in­ter­ests were be­ing served by the Glenkens and Dis­trict Trust.

Read­ing the trust’s con­sti­tu­tion it would ap­pear none of the Ste­wartry’s main towns are el­i­gi­ble for the wind­farm gen­eros­ity.

The trust has cho­sen the Glenkens and any ad­ja­cent com­mu­nity coun­cil as ben­e­fi­cia­ries – co-in­ci­den­tally cov­er­ing the least-pop­u­lated area of Kirkcud­bright­shire.

One Glenkens com­mu­nity is even of­fer­ing to con­trib­ute to res­i­dents’ elec­tric­ity bills – yet more than 40 per cent of the re­gion’s house­holds have fuel poverty.

Would a tar­geted fund to sup­port the Ste­wartry’s less for­tu­nate not be more ap­pro­pri­ate?

Com­mu­nity ben­e­fit pay­outs are not com­pul­sory and wind­farm own­ers can de­cide the ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

There are clear guide­lines on what cri­te­ria ap­ply when award­ing grants. Any com­mu­nity group can, within rea­son, make rep­re­sen­ta­tions for con­sid­er­a­tion.

Iso­la­tion of com­mu­ni­ties, pop­u­la­tion den­sity, demo­cratic ac­count­abil­ity and not least the qual­ity of ap­pli­ca­tions all guide de­ci­sions.

We live in very con­strained times. Our coun­cil pay­mas­ters are not bluff­ing when they an­nounce cut­backs which we hear about weekly.

Is this wind­farm largesse recog­nised when it comes to coun­cil sup­port for Dalbeattie or Cas­tle Dou­glas res­i­dents not for­tu­nate enough to re­side within in the trust’s catch­ment area? Why are our elected mem­bers of the main Kirkcud­bright­shire towns not cam­paign­ing for a slice of wind­farm ben­e­fit money?

In any case, what right does the trust have to rep­re­sent any­one and cre­ate ar­bi­trary boundaries? I’m no fan of wind­farms but they are a nec­es­sary part of our en­ergy gen­er­a­tion port­fo­lio.

We all con­trib­ute through our elec­tric­ity bills to sub­si­dies mak­ing th­ese de­vel­op­ments eco­nom­i­cally vi­able – and the spin-off com­mu­nity ben­e­fit funds be­ing granted to the for­tu­nate few. Black­craig alone, po­ten­tially, will have £260,000-a-year for 25 years to dis­trib­ute. That equates to £10 per res­i­dent across the Ste­wartry, or more than £40,000 to each of the three main Ste­wartry towns.

So come on Black­craig – how about mak­ing a big ges­ture and sup­port­ing the Ste­wartry and not th­ese small groups?

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