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Energy firm director hits out after critics make bribery claims

Press and Journal

The director of an energy firm planning a new windfarm in Caithness has hit out at critics of his scheme to issue £80,000 of vouchers to neighbours each year.

The vouchers would be given to residents surrounding Eurowind's planned 10 turbine development at Lyth, near Wick, as a dividend of the annual profit.

They would be redeemable in shops and businesses across Caithness signed up to a project run jointly by the windfarm and Caithness Chamber of Commerce. But anti-windfarm campaigners claimed earlier this week that the scheme was a "blatant bribe" with one claiming that those behind it "should be in jail".

They said locals were helping pay for the vouchers through subsidies for wind power which are added to bills. Local business owner Neil Mackay, of Mackay Caravans' in Lyth, said he was in favour of the project as he believed it would "help the whole area".

Now, Eurowind director Ian Lindsay has answered back to the critics, claiming objecting to the voucher plan is "short-sighted and insular".

He said: "We have been very pleased with the positive feedback, but inevitably there are those who want to deny communities in Caithness any form of benefit because they object to windfarms out of their own principles.

"This is incredibly short-sighted and insular as the whole purpose behind this scheme is to help support local jobs and households.

"Working families are finding it very tough right now and this is a way for them and the businesses they work to get some concrete support instead of warm words.

"To keep going on about subsidies is to miss the point - all forms of energy generation are subsidised in one way or another, especially nuclear.

"Payments to communities are not material considerations in planning and Highland Council's formal consultation on our Lyth Wind Farm planning application is long-since closed anyway."