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Landscape fears prompt offshore wind projects plea

The Scottish Government has been told it must commit to offshore wind development if it is to avoid scarring the landscape of communities like Perthshire.

A little over a week ago, it appeared to herald a new era of onshore wind farms as energy minister Jim Mather announced an EU drive to increase consenting rates in a bid to achieve carbon reduction targets.

However, First Minister Alex Salmond unveiled an industry-led Offshore Wind “route map” on Tuesday aimed at galvanising the public and private sector and maximise the huge potential around Scotland’s coast.

He told the Scottish Low Carbon Investment (SCLI) conference in Edinburgh that Scotland would produce renewable energy in volumes equivalent to its entire demand by 2025.

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser believes that’s the route to take, given Scotland’s abundant natural resources, rather than continue the focus on on-shore development.

Communities such as Perthshire have been concerned by an increase in the number of onshore wind farm developments being forced upon them.

While 13 wind farms have so far been proposed and rejected by Perth and Kinross Council, five have been approved by Scottish ministers following appeals.

Mr Fraser said, “It is welcome news that the SNP government is encouraging offshore wind developments in Scotland.

“There is massive potential for offshore wind and I hope that we see real advances in this technology over the coming years.

“Research and development into other renewable technologies is required if Scotland is to lead the world in renewable energy.

“It is also means that we are less reliant on onshore wind turbines, which is welcome news for Perthshire communities.

“Only last week the SNP was focusing on the need to consent to more onshore wind farms.

“The SNP must move away from its fixation with onshore wind as it is unreliable, scars the local landscape and damages the local economy due to its negative impact on tourism.

“Scotland can have a real mix of renewable technologies but the SNP government needs to do more to encourage renewable technologies other than onshore wind energy.”

Speaking in Edinburgh, Mr Salmond told delegates at the SLCI conference, “Scotland has unrivalled green energy resources and our new national target to generate 80% of electricity needs from renewables by 2020 will be exceeded by delivering current plans for wind, wave and tidal generation.

“But Scotland’s ambitions go much further.

“I’m confident that by 2025 we will produce at least 100% of our electricity needs from renewables alone and, together with other sources, it will enable us to become a net exporter of clean, green energy.”

Scotland is committed to becoming a major exporter of low carbon electricity and to de-carbonising its electricity supply by 2030.

Scotland’s national target for renewable electricity generation was raised last week from 50% to 80% of gross electricity consumption by 2020.