Moffat and District Community Council will no longer object to Scoop Hill windfarm on behalf of the town – despite committing to do so last month.
Instead, the group will only forward the results of its recent community consultation on the proposed 75-turbine development to the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit (ECU).
Moffat’s residents were surveyed in July in a bid to obtain a “quantified view” from the town on the proposed windfarm. Feedback was yielded from just 238 respondents – 62 per cent of whom were wholly unsupportive of the project going ahead.
On July 27, community council chair Leys Geddes expressed disappointment at the low response rate but maintained that the group would “submit an objection to the proposed Scoop Hill wind farm, on behalf of Moffat, to the Government’s Energy Consents Unit”.
However, a u-turn on the formal objection was confirmed at the cohort’s monthly meeting on Tuesday night.
Mr Geddes said he previously thought submissions to the ECU, which influence ministers’ final decisions on major windfarm applications, needed to “either support the proposal or object to it”.
And he added members were “concerned” that the consultation’s low turnout “did not constitute an objection from the majority of our 2500 residents”.
“As a result,” he said, “I then checked with the ECU to see whether a submission could be made without being classified as an objection or a support and they said that would be possible.
“In all subsequent views expressed by the community council on Scoop Hill and the consultation, we have said that we will not be submitting an objection on behalf of the community to the ECU, but have reiterated that the CC remains neutral on windfarms, therefore will not be campaigning against the planning application for Scoop Hill.”
Members then voted unanimously to reaffirm the group’s long-standing position of neutrality on windfarm developments, as suggested by treasurer David Booth.
Carole Williams from Save Our Hills Moffat was in attendance at the meeting on Tuesday and reacted with dismay at news that an objection will no longer be conveyed to the Government on behalf of townspeople.
“In my view, 238 people from a statistical population of 2000 is a valid consultation,” she
argued, “and if you want to ask any mathematician or statistician, ask Dumfries and Galloway Council – a sample of 238 people will give you 95 per cent confidence that you can extrapolate those results to the whole population that you have surveyed. Which means that, overwhelmingly, the people of Moffat who responded to the survey have said that they are against – wholly against – the windfarm.”
Mrs Williams added that if councillors “ignore those results” then they should “step back from their statutory duties”.
She continued: “The community council is considered by the Scottish Government as the main statutory response in this process. They don’t come to anyone else – they don’t come to the public, they don’t come to Moffat Town Hall Redevelopment Trust or any other trust that are stakeholders in the town, they don’t come to Visit Moffat – the Scottish Government give you the opportunity to respond to this application on behalf of the people of Moffat, having ascertained their views.
“You have done that, and you are now going to ignore them. All I have to say is if you’re going to do that, how does that engender confidence that the community council speak for the people of Moffat that they purport to represent?”