Campaigners against the development of wind turbines in Moray and throughout Scotland have received little encouragement from Scotland’s First Minister.
Alex Salmond led several of his senior Cabinet members to a public question and answer session at Elgin Town Hall, where they were met by protestors fighting to stop the creation of wind farms in their communities.
These included members of the Cummingston Residents Action Group (CRAG), who for almost a year have been opposing the erection of several wind turbines overlooking the Cummingston, Burghead and Hopeman communities.
There was little joy for protestors who secured places in the hall however, as they heard Alex Salmond make a passionate case that renewable energy, including on and offshore wind turbines, was a vital part of Scotland’s future.
Several protestors spoke with the First Minister outside the Town Hall, among them was David Townsend from the CRAG, who said: “For the majority of residents it would not matter if there was one turbine or seven, the response would be the same, they do not want them close to their homes around a beautiful location like Cummingston.
“This is a coastal route with many people driving through on their way to Lossiemouth and other parts of the county, we have walkers on a route that goes right around the village and these turbines are going to be just metres from that route.
“We were joined by representatives from various areas of Scotland who are in exactly the same position as we are.
“There are hundreds of these applications going in for small wind farm developments, and the local residents around these turbines are either not being notified about them or have the same problems as we have in trying to combat them.”
Responding to further questions during the public debate, Alex Salmond accepted that there was a substantial capital cost in introducing renewable energy.
However, he pointed out that when that capital cost is met then the fuel, in the form of wind and waves, comes for nothing.
Mr Salmond also dismissed any argument that wind turbines were having an affect on tourism, pointing out that numbers were actually up in recent years. He said: “We have no information whatsoever that wind energy is having a dramatic affect on Scottish Tourism.
“That argument is just not sustained by any evidence that anybody has, it is just an impression that people want to promote.
“There are investments in renewable energy that are already creating thousands of jobs, and will generate thousands more.
“I believe this is a chance to re-industrialise this country, using technology in which we lead the world.
“What I would say to people is that (our policy) was not a secret at the election, it was one of the key points that I was putting forward.
“I understand and know that many people are so opposed to wind turbines but I hope that they understand that there is a body of opinion that these technologies hold one of the absolute keys for the future of this country, which is why we are passionately committed to it.”
Proposals for four wind turbines to be erected over Cummingston Village were on the verge of being dismissed by Moray councillors, but the proposal was withdrawn days before a planning meeting.
An amended proposal for three turbines at the same spot has now been lodge, with residents who objected to the first proposal having to renew their objections before the expiry date on September 29.