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Sunday, 31 August 2014

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No support for more turbines in Solway Firth, meeting told

Experts exploring the potential for more wind turbines in the Solway Firth have yet to find anyone in favour of the moves.

Cumbrian fishermen fear the impact of more masts would be disastrous for their industry – currently poised for a multi-million pound boost – and tourism.

They voiced their opposition to any new turbines at a consultation event in Maryport.

The Solway has been identified by the Scottish government as a potential site for more wind farming as it looks into the potential for 1,000 new turbines around the country’s coast, including more on the Scottish side of the Robin Rigg wind farm. Part of the Irish Sea at Wigtown, in Dumfries and Galloway, has also been highlighted as a possible location.

Plans will be published on March 18, when the Scottish Government will decide which developers they will work with on which sites.

Around 30 people, mainly fishermen, attended a consultation in the Wave Centre in Maryport on Friday. They warned that the fishing industry in the Solway would be destroyed if more turbines were built.

Officials from Marine Scotland were told that shifting sands since the erection of the Robin Rigg turbines were already having an adverse affect on the Cumbrian and Dumfriesshire sides of the Solway.

Ron Graham, north west chairman of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) said there was about to be an announcement of a £3.9 million European grant to boost the fishing industry from Silloth to Ravenglass.

He urged Marine Scotland to send a strong message to the Scottish Government that this money could be lost if the turbines are built.

Mr Graham also recommended that no further development take place in the Solway until the long-term effects of Robin Rigg have been ascertained.

Maryport fisherman James Mitchell said the effect on fishing and tourism would be disastrous and he warned Scottish people on the Solway coast would not benefit.

Dr Fiona Simpson and Paul Alcock of Marine Scotland assured the audience that it will be made clear to Scottish politicians that there is no support for wind turbines off the south west Scotland coast, towards Cumbria.

“We have spoken to around 550 people in the consultation process and nobody has been in favour,” Mr Alcock said.

Dr Simpson added that while there were some technical problem for development of wind farms on the eastern coast of Scotland there was not the same blanket disapproval as in the south west.

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