Joan McAlpine MSP says she is deeply disappointed for the communities of Sanquhar Kirkconnel and Kelloholm after the Scottish Government refused permission for a wind farm which would have earned them £450,000 a year.
Ms McAlpine said:
"I am bitterly disappointed for the communities of Upper Nithsdale who need the money that Sandy Knowe would have delivered.
"Kelloholm, Kirkconnel and Sanquhar suffer from high unemployment and the £450,000 a year community benefit was to be invested in a trust which planned to stimulate economic growth through apprenticeships, small business grants and an outreach centre to allow youngsters to study college courses locally. The community support for this development was overwhelming and crossed political boundaries. Kirkconnel and Kelloholm Community Council and the Royal Burgh of Sanquhar and District Community Council both supported the proposal.
"In addition to the very substantial community benefit, Burcote Wind had met local companies to discuss how they could win contracts in this major construction project. It would have been a huge economic boost to an area that desperately needs investment. The people of Sanquhar, Kirkconnel and Kelloholm are hugely important here yet their views appear to have been ignored.
"We hear a lot of noise from the small minority of individuals who don't want turbines and the politicians who cow tow to them. It is very unhelpful that both David Mundell MP and Russell Brown MP have been campaigning for a wind farm moratorium in Dumfries and Galloway. The letter from Simon Coote, the head of the Scottish Government's Energy Consents, on the refusal, points out that the council's "Wind Farm Landscape Capacity Study" identifies the landscape of the Nithsdale Upper Dale as being particularly "sensitive" to turbines. But that was not the view of the locals - nor was it the view of elected councillors on the planning applications committee who chose not to object to Sandy Knowe last year.
"Upper Nithsdale communities were incredibly positive about Burcote's plans. The Scottish Government's explanation of their refusal admits that the development will generate significant economic benefit and significantly contribute to carbon reduction. I do hope this does not represent a move away from the Scottish Government's positive support for renewables? I hope it does not mean that powerful lobby groups have more influence than working class communities in desperate need of jobs and investment.
"Further north of these communities the Scottish Government supports open cast developments which really do scar the landscape and increase our carbon emissions. That makes this decision against such a positive renewables development so unfathomable and particularly disappointing."