COMMUNITY councillors in Moffat are considering how to best inform locals about a major windfarm development planned near the town after a recent extension to the public consultation deadline was granted.
Last November developers Community Windpower Limited (CWL) submitted an application to erect 75 turbines at Scoop Hill, stretching over 22 square miles between Eskdalemuir, Boreland and Moffat.
A series of public meetings set to brief the affected communities were cancelled last year due to the first coronavirus lockdown — which developers say made the process of disseminating information about the project difficult.
An extension to the 30-day deadline for public responses was upheld at the request of Moffat and District Community Council (MDCC) and other statutory consultees, with Dumfries and Galloway Council initially agreeing to accept submissions until next Wednesday, March 17.
However, it was announced by MDCC’s new chairman Leys Geddes at an EGM on Tuesday night that the local authority has now further extended the deadline to August 31.
Mr Geddes said in a statement on behalf of the community council that the group remains “a degree short of manpower and accompanying expertise”, but highlighted that the arrival of three new community councillors and a prolonged consultation period puts them “in a position to review this new situation and to decide how MDCC can best fulfil its statutory requirements”.
He added: “To this end, Moffat and District Community Council have already met with Kirkpatrick Juxta Community Council to consider commonality and resources.
“Both community councils initiated a dialogue with Community Windpower Limited, the developers of Scoop Hill, to explore how to develop respectful and accountable relations between CWL and our two communities.
“We will be continuing these dialogues as appropriate. At our next meeting we will consider, in the light of ongoing covid restrictions, how we might achieve our previously declared aim of disseminating further information on Scoop Hill to the community.”
Furthermore, MDCC’s official position of neutrality regarding the Scoop Hill development was raised at the meeting.
Mr Geddes reiterated the stance articulated in December by former chairman Dick Mongahan, who said the group has a “long-standing policy of neutrality on windfarms”, and that it had no intention of changing this.
However, Dumfriesshire MSP Oliver Mundell, present at Tuesday night’s EGM, said there is a “duty to form an opinion or to put across views of people in the town”.
He added: “I get the idea of neutrality but I think with more time there is an opportunity to ask people in the town what they feel and try to work out what the public mood is.
“If there is a difference in how the Energy Consents Unit look at the views of a community council and how they look at the views of individuals no matter how many there are, I think it is worth having another think with the available time. I just wanted to press upon you about the volume of correspondence I’ve had on this – there are an awful lot of people who are very concerned and in many cases are pro-wind development and think that it’s a good thing, but that the size and scale of this project is not appropriate in the context of Moffat.”