A £2 MILLION legacy fund – created by the sale of Neilston’s wind farm – should focus on supporting the elderly, creating more facilities for youngsters and rejuvenating community spaces, according to a consultation.

More than 80 people took part in the event at St Thomas’ Church Hall last week, where they were asked opinions on aspects of village life the fund should address and how it should operate.

Other priorities set out by the public included improving infrastructure, heritage and greenspace projects; upgrading sports facilities; and making better use of properties in the village such as the Glen Halls.

As revealed in the Barrhead News, Neilston Development Trust (NDT) sold its 28 per cent stake in the four-turbine wind farm to The Renewables Infrastructure Group last month.

The trust opted to cut a deal after finding the turbines increasingly difficult to manage due to fixed interest loans taken out in the face of changes in oil and gas prices and the loss of subsidies.

Pauline Gallacher, NDT chairwoman, was pleased with the turnout and said: “I was hugely encouraged by the number of people at the meeting as well as the range of ideas for the fund’s use.

“We want to ensure that the fund addresses what people see as the long-term opportunities and challenges for our community.”

Villagers’ views will be made clear to the five trustees appointed to the wind farm legacy fund board, one of whom will be a NDT member.

As an independent charitable body, the board will be tasked with providing long-term benefits for Neilston.

While the trust will be open to funding requests, it is expected to take six months before the fund’s structure is legally confirmed and a further six months until it is ready to receive applications.

Speaking to residents at the community consultation, Gordon Keenan, NDT chief officer, highlighted matched funding as a possible route forward.

He said: “For every £1 the Neilston Development Trust has utilised from the wind farm or anywhere else we always sought to get another £2 from other sources.

“That’s the strength the Neilston Development Trust gives to Neilston.

“Whoever are the trustees on the board will need to get themselves up to speed with both how they invest the money to maximise the interest they can attract and what they want to invest in.

“Two million pounds is only a certain amount of money so we’re not going to be building a massive new shopping centre or a housing scheme in a massive sense but there is the capacity to do things.

“It may be a work space, it may be small pockets of housing or other landscaping or social care projects that have an element of capital cost but there tends to be a return.”