THE news this week came thick and fast to the Times office: firstly, that NHS Grampian had agreed to preserve dispensing services at Pitmedden surgery, and then - immediately afterwards - that the campaigners had decided to set up their own pharmacy.
It is, I think, a good solution for all parties concerned, and best of all, the new community pharmacy has, as a stated aim, the objective of re-opening the doctor’s surgery in Tarves.
In many ways, Pitmedden is dominating the headlines this week. On Monday, the First Minister arrived to see for himself the good being done by the Udny Community Turbine, which has thus far generated more than a hundred thousand pounds for the parish. That’s a phenomenal amount of money for public services in a fairly small area. Beside the obvious constraints of time and money, I cannot understand why other rural communities are not erecting their own, locally-owned wind projects.
Much criticism is levelled at turbines on the grounds that they are a blight on the countryside - and this is a fair point to make.
The other criticism levelled is that the cost of the electricity produced by said wind developments is higher than equivalent supplies from fossil fuel sources. However, we are rapidly moving to an era where there will be no such thing as cheap electricity. And while wind is expensive, its costs may well soon be surpassed by the expenses associated with sourcing fossil fuels from ever remoter and more unstable sources. And it would surely be better to have wind developments in the hands of communities, rather than in those of private developers.
Aberdeenshire Council announced within the last six months that it would look at the possibilities of establishing wind projects on council property, for the benefit of the region as a whole. I believe the local authority should go further. Where communities do not have councils as active as that in Udny, the local authority - or perhaps the Scottish Government - should instigate the construction of turbines, where there is community appetite. The hundreds of thousands of pounds individual community turbines could raise would do a lot of good, preserving services and facilities as in Pitmedden.
It’s certainly something to think about.