Is this a wind up?

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THE Scotsman (4 March) contains an image of the First Minister holding a copy of Scotland’s Economic Strategy. The title page of this features a picture of a group of wind turbines – appropriately perhaps as these are now such a prominent feature in our landscape as well as in the SNP’s ­policies.

The picture is captioned “Aikengall Community Wind Farm” implying that this development supports the SNP’s aim for community involvement in renewable energy projects. Presumably it would then also meet the aspiration in the summary that “the benefits of economic growth are shared more equally.”

However, the only “community” aspect of Aikengall lies in the name of its operator, a Cheshire-based company registered in England with the name of Community Windpower Limited. Although based in England, all the company’s 14 operating or proposed wind developments appear to be in Scotland and, despite their actual ownership, are described in the company’s publicity material as “community wind farms”.

The Scottish Government has stated that it expects wind developers to pay communities £5,000 per installed megawatt. The company’s recently consented extension to Aikengall with a capacity of 68.4MW should thus pay £342,000. A total of no more than £100,000 has been offered and, as with all such “community benefit”, this would in practice only be paid at the company’s discretion

However, the company has been generous in support of the First Minister’s party. It was “proud to be the sole sponsors” of the SNP’s St Andrew’s Night ­dinner last November.

John Williams

Chair, Borders Network of Conservation Groups

Heriot, Scottish Borders

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