The Scottish Government has ruled out a change in law which would have protected some of the country’s most picturesque areas from a “barrage” of wind farm applications.
Politicians including Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser had demanded the introduction of a law which would have created “no go” areas for wind farm developments.
He insists the legislation would have protected some of Scotland’s most beautiful areas, including huge swathes of rural Perthshire in his constituency.
Numerous campaign groups have been set up throughout the region in a bid to protect the natural landscape from “intrusive” wind farm developments but already several applications have been given the green light.
In a desperate bid to “secure a long-term future” for Perthshire’s tourism industry, Mr Fraser had called on the Scottish Government to intervene.
The MSP outlined plans for the introduction of a law effectively cutting down on the number of “speculative planning applications” being submitted by developers keen to join the renewable energy gold-rush.
However, his suggestion has been shot down in flames by transport and infrastructure minister Stewart Stevenson, who ruled the government has “no powers” to prevent planning applications from being made.
“The SNP government has now made it abundantly clear that it is happy for wind farm developers to submit as many planning applications as they wish,” Mr Fraser said.
“It is hugely disappointing that officials were not prepared to create ‘no go’ areas for applications.
“I believe that large parts of Perthshire— and indeed Scotland—should be automatically ruled out for a wind farm application due to their natural beauty and importance to the local tourism industry.”
Mr Fraser fears the current system, allowed to continue unchecked, could have catastrophic consequences for landscapes.
“The SNP government is obviously not prepared to tackle the mess that is Scotland’s planning system for wind farm applications,” the MSP continued.
“I have no doubt that a system should be in place to clearly tell developers which areas are out of bounds.
“We certainly need to have better and stronger guidelines or the current barrage of wind farm applications in areas such Perthshire will continue.
“I have no doubt campaigners will be very disappointed by the government’s disregard for the natural beauty of our country.”
Mr Stevenson stressed that “additional support and guidance” will soon be made available to planning authorities.
“A team of consultants was appointed by the Scottish Government at the beginning of 2008 for a period to 12 months to provide expert advice and support on the preparation of supplementary planning guidance for wind farms,” he said.
By Dave Lord
31 March 2008
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