Europe’s largest onshore windfarm in Clydesdale’s rural countryside, has been given the green light by the Scottish Government.
The news came as a blow to local people who campaigned against the Clyde Windfarm since it was first proposed five years ago.
Clydesdale MP David Mundell described the giant windfarm as “an abomination”, and claimed the decision to approve it was a political one.
He said: “This windfarm is far too big; it will scar and completely overwhelm the local landscape.
”It only got the go-ahead because it is not in an SNP constituency – for example, they turned one down on Lewis.
”It is a political decision of the worst kind and one that is to be regretted. I am disappointed particularly for everyone involved in the efforts to campaign against it.
“We are about to see beginning a massive construction project, which is equivalent to the M74 motorway, so I do hope that some local benefit will come out of that but obviously that is at a cost.
”There will be inconvenience to communities affected by the access to the construction sites.
”I condemn the Scottish Government for this decision.”
Announcing the decision on Monday, First Minister Alex Salmond said the 152-turbine Clyde windfarm near Abington in South Lanarkshire would be capable of powering up to 320,000 homes.
The Government said the development would bring £600 million of investment.
During construction the project is expected to create 200 jobs, with approximately 30 staff employed when fully operational.
Speaking ahead of the World Renewable Energy Congress in Glasgow, the First Minister said: ”The Clyde windfarm will represent a very important step in the development of renewable energy in Scotland and in meeting shared European targets.
”It is another step towards making Scotland the green energy capital of Europe.
”The Scottish Government has an ambitious target to generate 31 per cent of Scotland’s electricity demand from renewable sources by 2011 and 50 per cent by 2020.
”This announcement makes it virtually certain that the 2011 target will be met early and exceeded by the end of this Parliamentary term and represents a significant milestone on the way to achieving the 2020 target.
”Scotland has a clear, competitive advantage in developing clean, green energy sources such as wind, wave and tidal power.
”We have put renewable energy at the heart of our vision of increasing sustainable, economic growth.”
The Clyde windfarm will be built in clusters of turbines on either side of the M74 motorway. It will have a total capacity of 548 Megawatts.
Objectors locally formed their own campaign group, ACE, the Abington Crawford and Elvanfoot Environmental Watch, in 2003 when the plans were first announced by Airtricity, fearing the affects it would have on the countryside.
One described it as ”an eyesore” which would spoil the landscape for ever.
Campaigners were also concerned that it would drive away tourists, arguing that jobs created by the windfarm would not last, and local tourism jobs would be lost.
Crawford Community Council also opposed it. Botanist Professor David Bellamy backed the the objectors’ campaign and on a protest walk in 2005 described windfarms as ”weapons of mass destruction”.
South Lanarkshire Council came out in opposition to the plans in 2005, after it received 73 individual letters and two petitions from people concerned at its affect on the Clyde Valley Tourist Route.
Neighbouring Dumfries and Galloway Council also objected, fearing that the cumulative effect of planned windarms would give a scenic area an industrial character.
A public inquiry was held in 2006 and the decision to approve the windfarm has now been taken.
By Helen McCall
22 July 2008
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