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Consultation extended after lively public meeting

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By Christie Breen
Front
Consultation extended after lively public meeting

MANY Moffat residents were left feeling ‘disappointed’ after last week’s public debate on proposed windfarms.

The developments at Rivox and Scoop Hill have recently become a contentious issue within the town with community groups and residents voicing their concerns about the number of windfarms in the surrounding hills.

The debate, held last Wednesday night at Upper Annandale Parish Church, was organised and chaired by Moffat and District Community Council (MDCC) and attracted over 100 members of the public.

Presentations were given by Community Windfarms Ltd, who are proposing to develop the site at Scoop Hill; Belltown Power UK Ltd, who are responsible for the development at Rivox; and community group Save Our Hills Moffat (SOHM).

Members of the public were also able to ask questions. Queries ranged from community benefits, flooding and biodiversity, as well as the potential threats to the Golden Eagle project, Moffat’s Dark Sky status and tourism.

The representatives from Belltown Power UK were impressed by the community’s level of engagement, with technical director Peter Thomas saying: “It was useful for us to attend and to have the opportunity to outline our Rivox proposal and explain the benefits that it could deliver for local communities.

“We look forward to continuing to engage with Moffat and District Community Council and local people as the project progresses.”

Meanwhile, following the lengthy discussion it was agreed that MDCC would request an additional extension from the government’s Energy Consents Unit (ECU) in order to submit further feedback from the public. Subsequently an extension was granted for the Rivox proposal to January 17 2024.

However, some left last week’s meeting frustrated at the community council, who reasserted their neutral stance on the proposed developments.

A spokesperson from SOHM told this paper: “SOHM are disappointed that no clear conclusion was drawn from the evening by MDCC, nor any outcome announced.

“Sadly, it would appear they are no closer to taking any measure which would lead to this result. We remain convinced that such an action would be strongly noted by our councillors and MSPs. If we are to hope for any support from these elected representatives, we surely must give them a clear and unequivocal objection via our first tier of local government, namely our community council.”

In response, MDCC secretary Mick Barker said: “The public meeting was a good thing as it created a forum for the community and gave us the opportunity to capture their views. We as a community council got a lot out of it and have received a lot of feedback from the those who attended.

“At the meeting people wanted the community council to come out and take a stance on these windfarms but the purpose of the meeting was to create a forum for the community to ask questions and capture their views.

“Additionally, I have been in contact with the council’s planning department and they have told us that they will not be consulting the community council about planning permission for the developments at Scoop Hill or Rivox, so an official stance from the community council would be irrelevant in this regard.

“So I would encourage any person or group who wishes to make a representation or objection to write to ECU, their elected councillors and MSPs themselves because to achieve the desired outcome there needs to be a substantial body of evidence and material in place.”

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