More than £2million a year could be generated for community projects if windfarms planned for the Stewartry are given the go ahead.
A move by councillors this week means developers must agree to make annual payments into a community benefit fund if they are given planning permission for a new turbine scheme.
However, a local pressure group has described the payments as “a bribe so that vested interests can get their way”.
Members of the planning, housing and environment services committee agreed on Tuesday that rules should be put in place so that any developer given the green light to develop a windfarm has to abide by the council policy.
A spokesman said: “Where the council agrees to grant planning permission for a wind farm on its planning merits, there will be negotiations with the developer and contributions officer within economic development. There will be a requirement to include a section 75 planning obligation for the developer to make the appropriate financial contributions in line with the council’s community benefits from wind farms policy.”
The policy, which economic developmeny boss Ewan Green told councillors was not legally enforcable, requires companies to pay £5,000 a year for every megawatt produced.This money would then be put in a central pot, with half going to the communities in the area near the windfarm and half going to a fund to be distributed across Dumfries and Galloway.
Figures available for developments currently in the pipeline, such as Mayfield near Rhonehouse and Barcloy Hill near Kirkcudbright, show more than £300,000 would be generated every year if they were approved.
Schemes that would generate more than 50 megawatts, such as Benshinnie and Loch Urr, would require approval from the Scottish Government and there is no guarantee they would impose the same requirements as the council, although they will be asked to take the policy into account.
But when figures released by the developers of the larger schemes are added up it shows they are willing to contribute almost £2million a year – a sum likely to rise once more details become available for other windfarms already announced.
However, Alison Chapman of Galloway Landscapes and Renewable Energy (GLARE), said: “Such monies are ‘shared’ within a community but the size and the extent of ‘the community’ is hard to define and it is still harder to agree on who should be in control of such monies and decide how, where and to whom such monies are paid.
“Bribes serve only to divide families, neighbours, communities and ultimately society.
“We would be well advised to learn from the native American Cherokee who recently defended their religious and spiritual heritage as well as their homeland by refusing to accept any such bribe to erect wind turbines in their ancestral lands.”
The figures do not include community benefit funds for windfarms that have already received approval, such as Blackcraig, or are already functioning, such as Windy Standard.