Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown has accused Fergus Ewing, Scottish Government Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism of not listening to local concerns over the excessive number of wind farm developments in the region, after it was revealed the Minister would be speaking at a conference in Dumfries later this month- on the benefits of wind farms.
The Minister is the keynote speaker at the conference entitled “Achieving impact with Community Benefit Funds” organised by Foundation Scotland in the Easterbrook Hall on 27 August. The conference is aimed at representatives from community councils and other community organisations and renewables developers, and looks at how community benefit- the phrase used to describe “compensation” paid to communities by wind farm developers- is delivered in the area. However, the Minister has no plans to meet with those concerned at the disproportionate number of wind farms being developed in the region or community groups opposed to wind farms.
Russell Brown said, “I have been contacted by members of community councils in Galloway who have been invited to attend the conference. Understandably, they are disappointed that Fergus Ewing is not listening to the wider community. By coming to the area to lecture people on the community benefits of wind farms, he is clearly only interested in one side of the argument. Many people see community benefit payments as little more than bribery, but ultimately if it’s the only benefit communities get from having wind farms on their doorstep then it is important that communities make the most of it. However, Fergus Ewing should also be prepared to have a discussion with the community about his wider policy of trying to carpet our region with wind farm after wind farm. When I met him in October I presented a petition signed by over 2000 people calling on him to visit Dumfries and Galloway to meet local people and hear their concerns about the increasing number of wind farms in our area. It is disppointing that he is snubbing those people and is only interested in talking about community benefits. There is a lot of anger locally at the Scottish Government’s relentless obsession with industrialising rural Dumfries and Galloway with so many wind farm developments. I believe there is a place for wind energy but as part of a mixed energy policy. The Scottish Government is actually undermining the case for wind farms. Not only is our region taking a far higher share of wind farms than other areas, it is the only energy the Scottish Government is interested in developing in Dumfries and Galloway and their obsession is causing resentment from the local community.”