MOFFAT and District Community Council (MDCC) will formally object to the controversial Scoop Hill windfarm on behalf of the town.
A public consultation to gauge local views on the development, which if approved by the Government would see 75 turbines sited in the Moffat Hills, returned 238 responses.
Respondents were asked to score their support for Scoop Hill on a sliding scale from 0 to 10 and leave comments about the proposal.
And a majority of 145 (62 per cent) scored 0 and said they “do not support” the plans, compared to 38 people (16 per cent) who gave a score of 10 and therefore “wholly support” the development going ahead.
Ten respondents (four per cent) scored 5, neither supporting nor rejecting the project. Of the remaining 41 responses, 20 scored between 0 and 5, implying opposition, and 21 scored between 5 and 10, implying support.
Among the most common reasons provided for objecting to Scoop Hill windfarm were its impact on landscape and natural beauty (27 per cent), the area having a “fair share of windfarms already” (26 per cent), the scale and closeness to Moffat (21 per cent) and the impact on tourism and the local economy (20 per cent).
The turbines’ impact on the local bird of prey population was also highlighted in the consultation; 36 people – 15 per cent of respondents – raised concerns about how eagles would be affected, whilst 14 per cent felt that the development would impact of Moffat’s dark sky status.
Providing sustainable and renewable energy topped the list of motivations for getting behind the project, with 39 people (16 per cent) mentioning it in their response.
20 respondents (eight per cent) said they support the environmental benefits, whilst 15 (six per cent) said it would benefit the economy.
Furthermore, 19 people suggested relocating the project, including offshore, whilst ten mentioned reducing the number and size of the turbines, and nine said the development should be less visible from Moffat than currently planned.
Following the engagement process, MDCC chairman Leys Geddes commented that the community council is “none the wiser” and “seem to have received the views of the few who have long been strongly for or against Scoop Hill”, adding that the town has “often heard from them”.
He said: “The planning application for Scoop Hill has been in the news for more than two years and, if approved, it would be the largest development in the town’s recent history and would affect our lives, and our children’s lives, for 40 years.
Mr Geddes added the group had hoped to hear the views of “the silent majority” in the town through the consultation and claimed “the majority were happy for it to go ahead, or thought there was no point in objecting as the decision won’t be ours”.
He described the voting turnout as “disappointingly low” but confirmed the community council will lodge an official objection.
Carole Williams from Save Our Hills Moffat, stated she was pleased that the community council finally consulted locals on the matter.
She added: “We appreciate the effort that goes into such an exercise and we are happy to hear that they will fulfil their statutory duty by representing the people of Moffat.
“Save Our Hills Moffat would echo Mr Geddes disappointment at the number of replies to the survey.
“We would consider that it is not necessarily apathy. Perhaps it is indeed that many residents feel there is no point objecting – given the Scottish Government’s track record on many occasions in overriding local community views on wind farms. But the Scottish Government’s policy does state “the right development in the right place”. At its proposed scale, Scoop Hill is not the right development. Nor is Moffat the right place for such infrastructure.
“Or it may simply be a lack of knowledge of the whole picture of how Scoop Hill will impact Moffat and its neighbours for the next 45 years. Covid lockdown has prevented public meetings and the natural exchange of views which would otherwise have taken place.”