Debate surrounds pub reopening in New Luce

Natasha Potts has been hearing the arguments for and against new funding for this village in Dumfries and Galloway.

Residents of New Luce in Dumfries and Galloway are celebrating the long-awaited re-opening of their village pub, which closed five years ago.

The money to refurbish the Kenmuir Arms has been provided by a renewables firm which owns the Killgallioch wind farm development, which is located close to the village.

"In 2018 we bought the pub and we then proceeded, you know, a major undertaking to renovate the hall building," said Lorna Galloway from New Luce Community Trust, a group responsible for championing the village.

"So it's really been a strip it right back to the bare walls and start from the ground up.

"It's taken us a while to get here, but it's such a prominent position in the village and it's such a vital part of being the centre of our community."

It cost more than £1.2m to return the Kenmuir Arms to its former glory, with about 85 per cent of that money being provided by ScottishPower Renewables, who operate a local windfarm.

The Killgallioch site, which is home to 96 turbines, was started in 2015.

Killgallioch windfarm. Credit: ITV Border.

However, local groups campaigning against further wind farm construction have questioned the ethics of developers offering money to communities in exchange for turbines.

"Dumfries and Galloway has a pretty tenuous economic life, and it depends to a substantial extent on tourism and tourists obviously are likely to be put off by wind farms as part of the background of the hills that they are coming to see.

"There is, I think, an instinctive concern that people are being in effect, bribed to make a decision to favour the developer."

The funding for New Luce has also funded a new play park and provides every local resident with £150 annually to spend on taxi journeys.

"In my eyes, I think it's a really good idea," said Ewan Ayres, front-of-house manager at the Kenmuir Arms.

"Obviously you're getting renewable energy from it. Plus, they're also helping back, giving back to the community. So you're getting a lot back from it.

"You're getting incentives that they're giving to it. And also, as you can see here, the lovely pub, they're giving that to it.

"And I think as long as they're here to help communities and obviously sustain our sustainable lifestyle, I think that's amazing."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...