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Fair system urged to share turbine funds

Section:  Lockerbie and Lochmaben  | Tags: ,

A CALL for fair funding decisions in Moffat has been made to help divide up a £540,000 grant.

SSE Renewables pledged £540,000 compensation funding to the tourist town in return for using Moffat as a HGV route for their Clyde Extension Windfarm in 2015.

The Moffat Construction Fund has been split into three grant sizes – small, medium and large. The community council will administer £20,000 of it, through grants of up to £300.

A further £120,000 will be available for grants of between £5k to £9999 – and these lucky projects will be decided by a public vote on September 17.

And there will be £400,000 for large grants of between £10k to £100k, which will be decided by an independent steering group made up of members from the local community.

But this week a local, preferring to go under the pseudonym ‘concerned Moffat resident’ got in touch with this paper to voice concerns over the fairness of the decision making process.

She said: “From what I have been told, just about every member of this steering group has an interest in these funds, through an application or two or even three.

“Also, the panel have two to three members of the same group, surely this system is far from fair?

“If they are asked to leave the room while their application is discussed, surely the others will still vote tactically? “Why are the representatives of the windfarm not involved more?”

She added: “I urge this current process of decision making to be reconsidered by the windfarm firm.”

Responding to concerns, a spokeswoman from SSE Renewables said: “It is important to SSE that decisions on how the money is spent are made by local people.”

She explained that all members of the steering group have received training and have had to sign a declaration stating their connections with local groups.

She added: “The steering group will also have to state at the start of the decision making meeting if they have an interest in any of the applications put forward to the group.

“Where a steering group member has an interest in an application they will be asked to leave the room while the application is discussed and a funding decision is made.

“I hope this puts peoples’ minds at ease that the process is transparent and fair and that we are encouraging everyone in Moffat to get involved.”

Meanwhile, community council chairman Bob Opray, who is a member of the steering committee, says he feels ‘disheartened’ by the criticism.

He said: “We have tried really hard to get a diverse group of people on the steering committee, but the reality is that it’s always the same folk that are willing to volunteer their time to help make something of Moffat.”

More information about the fund, including how to apply can be found at unds/moffat/

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