Pertshire politicians have blasted the Scottish Government after they retracted a statement that a windfarm near Aberfeldy had been approved.
A press release was sent out from the government’s media office stating that the Griffin windfarm had been given the green light by the public inquiry reporter.
However, 16 minutes later, it was claimed that there was an “administrative error” and a new release omitted the Griffin decision.
Tory MSP Murdo Fraser hit out at the blunder and demanded answers from Energy Minister Jim Mather.
He said: “There seems to be chaos within Jim Mather’s office in relation to the granting of consents for these windfarms.
“First we are told in a Government press release that consent for the 68-turbine wind farm at Griffin, by Aberfeldy, has been granted. Sixteen minutes later a corrected press release is issued deleting all reference to Griffin. What is going on?”
Mr Fraser continued: “A Government press officer would not have written this release – including a quote from Jim Mather – unless consent had been granted. So why the reluctance to announce the decision publicly?
“Could this have anything at all to do with the fact that the SNP are defending a council by-election in the Highland Perthshire ward at present and that this decision will be hugely unpopular in the local area? Was the plan to conceal this decision until after the by-election to try to shore up SNP support?
“We need a full statement from Jim Mather as to what the true facts are here and he must tell us immediately if he has had any discussions with SNP figures in his Ministerial capacity concerning this windfarm application.”
Graham Rees, who is campaigning for the Highland Perthshire by-election, added: “There is now complete confusion about the SNP’s plans for wind farms in Highland Perthshire.
“It is now being claimed that this was simply a mistake by an official Government spokesman and that no decision has been made. At best, there is chaos and confusion at the heart of Government, but I am concerned that what we are really seeing here is a cover-up of an unpopular decision that has been taken.
“The SNP Government must now come clean and tell us whether they will be approving the Griffin application. This matter must be cleared up without any further excuses or delays.”
By Katy Gordon
29 January 2008
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