The Scottish Government has been accused of using “bully boy” tactics to open up more land for windfarm developments.
Local authorities across Scotland have been told to open up more land for windfarm developments to help the SNP meet its 100 per cent renewable energy targets.
In a letter from local government minister Derek McKay and energy minister Fergus Ewing, councils have been told to create “Spatial Frameworks” for wind turbines. This would provide windfarm companies with a list of sites across the country to target for preferred development.
The move has been criticised by opposition politicians and windfarm opponents and comes amid concerns that councils across Scotland are being inundated by planning applications.
In the letter sent to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), the SNP said it would be providing around £300,000 of funding to help under-pressure council planning departments cope with the predicted deluge of applications. It is understood cash may not be required by all of Scotland’s 32 local authorities but will still not be anything like enough to cover additional costs incurred across the country.
Two councils have already called for a moratorium on windfarm applications, pointing out that planning bosses are unable to cope with the sheer volume of them.
Liz Smith, Scottish Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: “This is sending out an open invitation to windfarm companies across the world to submit their applications in Scotland and that is something that will worry many local communities.
“Local democracy is all about local councils and locally-elected councillors taking decisions close to those communities which will be impacted.
“It is now clear that the SNP Scottish Government want to use ‘bully boy’ tactics to create a race to the bottom to build as many windfarms across Scotland as possible. All over the country, groups have been established to fight these developments, showing the acute concern felt by so many people.
“Releasing £300,000 may help some departments to a point, but it won’t be enough given the sheer volume of applications. The SNP is fuelling this rise and ordering councils across Scotland to get on-message with them will do nothing to help that situation.”
Perth and Kinross Council has turned down 17 individual applications for wind projects in the past. All but one have, however, subsequently been overturned by the Scottish Government following appeal.
Last week, Perth and Kinross councillor Ann Cowan called for a “significant” increase in the cost of windfarm applications, in light of concerns about the impact upon the public purse of the massive spike in numbers. She said councils were struggling to adequately process the deluge of applications, as developers attempt to cash in on the stampede for green energy.
Ms Cowan spoke at the Scottish Parliament during an event organised by lobby group Communities Against Turbines.
The implications of the document will now be considered by COSLA and council’s across the country.
A spokesman for Perth and Kinross Council said: “The need to crate spatial frameworks for windfarms is something the council has been aware of for some time. It is included in our new Local Development Plan and supplementary planning guidance is being developed.”