Any financial benefit from windfarms earmarked for the communities represented by the Royal Burgh of Wigtown and District Community Council cannot be paid to the organisation as it is not a legal entity, and could, as was demonstrated last year, suddenly disappear.
During a discussion about benefit funds arrangements at the community council’s monthly meeting on Monday, community councillor Jak Kane said that any money received would have to be by a third party, such as a “company limited by guarantee”. These bodies can become charitable organisations and are therefore not liable for corporation tax and can also apply for lottery funding. Another benefit of a third party arrangement was it allows the community council the freedom to remain independent and unbiased when considering windfarm planning applications.
Other communities have used other bodies to manage windfarm money for them, said Mr Kane, such as Kirkcowan through Machars Action and Old Luce with Foundation Scotland. Dumfries and Galloway council also manage windfarm community money, but hold 50 per cent back for the benefit of all communities throughout the region.
Mid Galloway Councillor Jim McColm noted that some renewable energy companies were by-passing community councils and appealing directly to households offering discounted electricity bills.
Community Council convenor Nick Walker commented that if various windfarms in the vicinity went ahead there was a need to get a body in place to receive the community benefit money.
The ‘Wigtown Week’ was a resounding success this year with a full programme of events and sunshine almost every day.
Community Council convenor Nick Walker congratulated everyone involved, as during the dark days of winter, there were fears the community festival would have to be cancelled, or reduced to a single weekend. Their was special praise for the role Steven McGarva played during the week chairing the committee meetings to ensure everything ran smoothly.
Wigtown Community Council were opposed in principal to plans by renewable energy company Ecotricity for a meteorological mast on land at Kirkdale Hill, near Carsluith, directly across the bay from the county town.
The 80-metre high mast would be used to gather information about wind levels for a period of two years.
But the community council were aware they would only have a valid objection if it was on planning grounds and they were at a loss to find one to fit the criteria.
There have been 60 objections to the mast lodged with the local authority planners and the application will now come before the planning committee shortly.
The same company applied for permission to scope in the same area ahead of lodging a planning application for their seven-turbine ‘California Wind Park’ in the same area. The CC had a case for a valid objection on planning grounds in that case, but Nick Walker said they were “wasting their breath” as no objections can be accepted at the scoping stage.
Wigtown Community Council leader Nick Walker paid tribute to former community councillor Andy Farrington who passed away last week. Mr Farrington had been a valuable member of the community body before resigning due to health issues last November.