WIND farm protesters have rubbished claims by a developer that a third of the local community supports its plans for 12 turbines near Penicuik.
Renewable energy developer Wind Prospect said it had conducted a telephone poll of 501 randomly-selected people living within an eight-kilometre radius of the site located just outside of Howgate on the Clerk Estate.
They claim that the proposed development won the backing of 33 per cent of residents, reflecting growing local support for the turbines which, when built, could produce enough energy to power 40 per cent of the homes in Midlothian.
However, Professor Tony Trevawas of the Penicuik Environment Protection Association insisted that in his view local opposition was as strong as ever.
He said: “We held a meeting recently in Howgate attended by almost 100 people and the entire room was against the plans. This proposal, which will lead to the degradation of the landscape, is wholly based on money and has nothing to do with benefitting the local community or reducing greenhouse gases. The plans for this development will be lodged in either December or January and we will see then who is for and against it.”
Of those who completed the survey, 28 per cent stated they were unaware of the Mount Lothian wind farm proposal or expressed no interest. Amongst those interested in and aware of the proposal, 45 per cent were supportive compared with 24 per cent against – the remaining 30 per cent were undecided.
Wind Prospect development manager Karen Thorburn said: “The results are very encouraging, with a larger section of the local community in favour of the Mount Lothian wind farm proposal than those who are opposed. It also tells us that the balance of people locally have still to make up their minds. We plan to host more public exhibitions for Mount Lothian later this year and would encourage the local community to come along.”
If approved, the firm intends to give £48,000 per year to support community initiatives, the equivalent of £1.2 million over the project’s lifetime. Those who participated in the telephone survey were also asked how they would like to see this proposed community fund invested. Ms Thorburn added: “We are currently in discussions with local Midlothian colleges to explore how the fund could help members of the local community access training opportunities and enhance skills and job prospects. The turbines that the firm plans to use at Mount Lothian would have a hub height of 65 metres, with the height of the blades stretching to 105m.