Scottish councils are being swamped with seven wind turbine planning applications a day by developers trying to cash in on millions of pounds of public subsidies.
Local authorities are being besieged by landowners hoping to secure some of the £400million paid out to green energy schemes in Britain every year.
Chancellor George Osborne has called for the subsidies to be cut by 25 per cent, with experts warning they could soon add £200 to household energy bills annually.
But the vast sums available, and the Scottish Government’s drive for all Scotland’s electricity to come from renewables by 2020, have encouraged a flood of applications.
Local authorities struggled with more than 1,800 made in the last year alone. The leader of Fife Council has written to the Scottish Government requesting a moratorium so officials can cope.
Meanwhile, a Scottish Daily Mail investigation has revealed there could be as many as 2,700 turbines in Scotland.
Susan Crosthwaite, chairman of campaign group Communities Against Wind Turbines, said: ‘What we’re seeing in Scotland is a feeding frenzy by wind developers. Many rural communities are being besieged by energy companies from across Europe keen to lure greedy landowners.
‘Massive subsidies, and a government in hock to Alex Salmond’s fantasy of Scotland as a “Saudi Arabia of renewables” make turbines a licence to print money. Planning departments already reeling from cuts are being stretched to breaking point by councils are practically helpless to stop the spread of turbines, as developers bet that the Scottish Government will overrule refusals on appeal.’
A Scottish Daily Mail investigation found some of the remotest areas face being covered in wind turbines. In Dumfries and Galloway last year there were 371 applications. Aberdeenshire, in 2011/12, received 492.
The list includes plans which went on to be rejected, and also domestic turbines built in back gardens – but these applications are dwarfed by plans for commercial wind farms, with turbines as high as the 443ft London Eye.
Scotland’s 32 councils were hit with 1,801 applications in 2011 – more than seven for each working day. Fife had 134 for wind farms and turbines and a total of 399 for renewables projects.
Fife Council leader, Labour councillor Alex Rowley, has ordered planners to stop rubberstamping applications until a public consultation is held.
He said: ‘We will be writing to the Scottish Government to put a case for a moratorium on all wind turbine applications while a consultation is under way.
‘Too many developers are being opportunistic with applications for areas not appropriate for wind turbines.’
Conservative energy spokesman Mary Scanlon said: ‘Local authorities across Scotland are being overwhelmed with applications for wind farms. Often these applications are speculative. The SNP’s target of 100 per cent renewable energy is driving this surge.’
It has also emerged that the Nationalists have no idea how many wind turbines have already been built. Trade association Scottish Renewables estimates there are 1,400 to 1,800.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: ‘We want to see the right developments in the right places. Planning authorities, and where appropriate the Scottish Government, will only allow renewables developments to be built where the impacts have been found to be acceptable.
‘Each case is assessed on its merits.’