Moray campaigners blasted Scottish Government ministers yesterday after they rejected plans for a moratorium on windfarm applications.
The council wanted to put the measure in place while a public consultation on new policy guidance for turbines is carried out.
But Derek Mackay, the minister for local government and planning, refused the request and made the rejection official in a letter to Moray Council leader Allan Wright.
Mr Mackay said the move would be “an unprecedented step in Scottish planning practice”. One anti-windfarm protester said the government’s decision “flew in the face of local democracy”.
And councillors said they were deeply disappointed.
Mr Wright said last night: “I felt it was a reasonable request given that we are asking the people of Moray for their views on wind turbine planning for the future.”
And Douglas Ross, chairman of the planning and regulatory services committee, described the news as a “bitter blow”.
He said: “When the committee announced it was seeking a moratorium from the Scottish Government, we received significant support from the local community.
“This response will be a bitter blow to many people across Moray who felt it was a sensible and proportionate move.”
Furious anti-windfarm campaigners shared the council’s disappointment.
Derek Ross, who launched a petition against Vento Luden’s plans to build 19 turbines on Brown Muir three miles south of Elgin, said the decision made him feel helpless.
He said: “There seems to be little point in having local government if they continue to make decisions on behalf of the people.
“We have just been looking through Moray Council’s documents and it seems sensible to have a moratorium.
“We have got enough in this area. People are against any more windfarms.”
Mr Ross said the decision called the value of local democracy into question.
He added: “The idea of devolution is that it gives power to the people. But what’s the point of electing a councillor if they can’t make a decision?
“It’s almost becoming a dictatorship.”
Mr Ross’s petition has attracted nearly 2,000 signatures against the Brown Muir site.
“These people have no accountability to the people of Moray and have no investment in the area,” he added.
“I feel very sorry for the councillors. We already have more than enough windfarms in the area. Does the government just want to blanket the whole countryside in them?
“It’s flying in the face of local democracy.”
But Bob Graham, who has campaigned against windfarms in Moray for years, said the council’s request for a moratorium had been a “naive” gesture.
He said it was “too little, too late” – and he was not surprised by the Scottish Government’s decision.
“The moratorium idea was good in some ways but I knew it was a pie in the sky,” he said.
“I’m not surprised with the decision – it was inevitable.
“We are under a draconian regime that will not listen to democracy.
“While I welcome the council’s change in thinking, it’s too little too late.”
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