July 2, 2012
By Michael Blackley, Scottish Political Reporter | Scottish Daily Mail | 2 July 2012
SNP mania for turbines ‘is now a threat to tourism’
The relentless growth in the number of wind farms blighting the countryside has been laid bare in a damning report.
Scotland can now generate three times more electricity than England using onshore turbines, thanks to the SNP’s wind power policy.
And Scotland is also much more reliant on wind farms than England – with a much higher proportion of its green energy coming from turbines.
But the growth of wind power comes at a significant cost amid fears about the impact turbines are having on sites of natural beauty and tourism.
The Scottish Government has a target of 100 per cent of electricity coming from renewables by 2020 – and it sees wind as a key contributor.
However, campaigners have urged it to call a halt to the spread of turbines.
Linda Holt, spokesman for the Campaign Against Turbines Scotland, said: ‘Alex Salmond has betrayed Scotland with his aggressive “wind at all costs” policy.
‘It has produced little gain and huge pain for Scotland’s rural people and businesses.
‘The UK Government was never going to unleash massive industrial wind farms on its core voters in England but Alex Salmond thought he could sell it to Scottish voters, who now find themselves with a vast white elephant.
‘Now, per head, Scotland has 30 times as much onshore wind capacity as England – which is dependent on public subsidy. It’s hard to see people putting up with this for much longer.’
The National Trust for Scotland has been much less hostile to wind turbines than its English counterpart but is now consulting its 312,000-strong membership about the issue, a move that could signal a toughening of its stance.
Figures published by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) last week show that output from renewables in Scotland soared by 45.5 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year. But wind energy has become more dominant than ever before, with onshore wind now responsible for 59 per cent of Scotland’s green energy capacity, compared to 56 per cent in the first quarter of last year.
By contrast, onshore wind is only responsible for 14 per cent of England’s green energy.
Alex Salmond’s vision for an independent Scotland includes a scheme to sell excess electricity generated through renewables to England.
Labour energy spokesman Tom Greatrex, MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, said: ‘The SNP must also address the significant decline in oil and gas production in the UK compared with this time last year. Given that so much of Alex Salmond’s plans for the economy in a separate Scotland are dependent on this declining commodity, he must level with the Scottish people.
‘ Scotland and the rest of Britain mutually benefit from the sharing of energy resources, risks and rewards. There is no sense in changing that.’
The DECC figures show Scotland has capacity to generate 2,867MW of electricity through onshore wind, compared to 986MW in England.
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: ‘These figures show renewable energy generation in Scotland is going from strength to strength.
‘The increase of 45.5 per cent in renewable output in quarter one of 2012 compared to quarter one of 2011 is encouraging when you consider 2011 saw the highest output from renewable energy to date.
‘We are seeing great progress towards our goal of generating the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity needs from renewables by 2020.
‘The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring every community in Scotland benefits from the opportunities of renewable energy.’
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