Campaigners against the proposed extension to Little Raith windfarm have accused Kennedy Renewables of leaving communities more than £1.6 million out of pocket.
Anti-windfarm campaigners claim the current level of community benefit for Little Raith does not meet the Scottish Government’s minimum recommendation, leaving communities £1,675,000 short.
Linda Holt, spokesperson for Scotland Against Spin, the national campaign against windfarms, said: “Wind developers always want to talk about the upsides of windfarms, never the downsides. They make such a hullaballoo about community benefit precisely because there are so few upsides for local residents.
“The community benefit for the nine operational turbines is way below the minimum rate of £5,000 per MW recommended by both the Scottish Government and the trade body Scottish Renewables.
“If Mr Kennedy were sincere about fulfilling his obligations to the community, he would peg the rate for the whole windfarm, not just for the six new turbines, at this level. This would produce an extra £67,000 pa or a total £1,675,000 for the community during the lifetime of the windfarm.”
But Jonny Kennedy, managing director of Kennedy Renewables, said: “The community benefit fund provided by Kennedy Renewables to the Four Winds Development Trust goes to benefit local communities in Cowdenbeath, Lochgelly, Lumphinnans and Auchtertool.
“The level of funding of £2,000 per MW was agreed between the previous developer and the communities before we took ownership of Little Raith Wind Farm.
“The community benefit funding level is set in a legal 75 agreement, an obligation we inherited and met. The level of funding agreed was in line or more generous than other community benefit funds set up at the time, such as Clyde Wind Farm, set at £2,000 per MW, or Whitelee Wind Farm, set at £1,000 per MW.
“In addition to the community benefit fund, we are working in the local community through our partnership with Fife College, where we have set up the Kennedy Renewables Educational Fund to provide local students on the wind turbine technician training course with laptops, industry-leading software and safety equipment.
“The current guidance for community benefit is now set at £5,000 per MW and we are happy to meet this level of funding if the extension is given the go ahead.”
On claims of a lack of community engagement, Mr Kennedy said: “We have a community liaison forum to meet with the community councils, set up to update the local communities and receive feedback.
“We have also held public exhibitions regarding the windfarm and the extension, which were advertised in the local press and open to all residents to attend. We welcome dialogue with residents.”