Joan McAlpine MSP is to meet with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) after a local farmer’s windfarm was turned down to protect hen harriers – despite the birds on the site being called into question.
The Spango windfarm had planned to use both its community benefit and some of the farmer’s income to help young people at Sanquhar by providing training and job opportunities.The developers have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Sanquhar Academy to support the Academy’s National 5 Skills for Work energy course is indicative of their commitment to upskilling local young people.
Ms McAlpine commended the proposed community council backed Spango Community Wind Farm after a site visit and a meeting at the school. If it secures planning permission, it would provide an innovative approach to skills development for young people from Sanquhar, Kirconnel and Kelloholm, as well as £4.5 million for community groups over the lifetime of the wind farm.However Ms McAlpine was dismayed to learn that the project has had to re-apply for planning permission after its first attempt was stymied because the RSPB claimed that hen harriers might at some point use the site. The moorland is currently considered a “degraded” hen harrier habitat.
Ms McAlpine took the issue up with the RSPB at the SNP Party conference and now the charity has invited her to a meeting to discuss her concerns.The Spango site is owned by a former tenant farmer and his daughter who is a teacher, both have strong family ties to the communities of Upper Nithsdale and a keen interest in using the planned renewables project to support local education initiatives.Ms McAlpine said:
“I was pleased to hear the depth of thinking behind the proposals outlined by the windfarm developers. With any major project like this it is essential that we maximise the benefits to local people and local communities, and that includes training and job creation as well as the revenue streams from community benefit funds.“I’m aware that both community councils in Upper Nithsdale are supportive of this proposed wind farm, and are keen to seize the opportunities from this development to create a legacy for local area.
“I think conservation is very important but in this case the moor had not seen hen harriers for a long time so they were unlikely to be affected.
“I told the RSPB that it seemed unfortunate that a scheme which could benefit young people in an economically challenged area had been stymied because hen harriers may or may not at some point in the future return to the site.
“I am therefore pleased that RSPB’s local officers have agreed to meet with me and the family behind the Spango project to discuss these issues further.”
Notes to Editors
Picture attached shows Joan McAlpine with an anemometer measuring wind speed at the proposed site at Spango