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SNP politician brands anti-windfarm protesters ‘a selfish and small minority’

Campaigners hit out at MSP for ignoring their concerns

A furious row has blown up after a Highland SNP politician was accused by anti-windfarm campaigners of blanking constituents’ concerns about the proliferation of wind turbines across the north.

The Caithness, Sutherland and Ross MSP Rob Gibson defiantly hit back, however and accused the objectors of being a “selfish and small minority” intent on rooting Scotland ‘in the Middle Ages”.

Mr Gibson infuriated campaigners earlier this year by branding them “selfish” for objecting to the many hundreds more giant turbines that are currently planned.

Amid growing opposition and an increasing public out¬cry that windfarms are economic nonsense in terms of subsidies necessary to sup¬port them, he accused objectors of “selfishly thinking about their short term amenity rather than the long term interests of the country.”

Mr Gibson is convener of the Holyrood rural affairs, climate change and environment committee and married to former Green Party MSP Eleanor Scott. His stance angered a group of protesters he faced outside the recent SNP conference in Inverness. The encounter left them more defiant.

Brenda Herrick of Castletown in Thurso, a member of the Caithness Windfarm Information Forum, asked Mr Gibson why he had not shown an interest in attending a local public inquiry into a proposed wind scheme to be informed that, as a MSP, he had to spend three days a week in Edinburgh.

She said yesterday: “So many MSPs have been roused by the pleas of their constituents whose lives are being ruined by windfarms, or who are concerned about the destruction of wild land, that one of them succeeded in having a parliamentary motion tabled.

“So many MSPs wished to speak that the debate had to be extended by half an hour. Not all were opposed to wind-farms, but they deplored the increasing cumulative impact of turbines and the current lack of democracy in the planning system where people, councillors and council officials can all recommend refusal only to be overruled by the minister.

“Mr Gibson was elected to represent the people of Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, many of whose lives are already blighted by wind-farms. The least he can do is to learn a little from what is no longer a ‘small minority’.”

Forum chairman Stuart Young added: “My need for a MSP is to deal with the issue of windfarm Proliferation and Rob Gibson is of no use whatsoever in that respect.”

Last week’s parliamentary debate on “community benefit and the cumulative impact” of windfarms called for a moratorium on new turbine developments until Scottish councils receive clearer guidance from government.

Mr Gibson, who opted to attend a green energy awards ceremony instead, yesterday dismissed windfarm objectors as “a small bunch of highly motivated people” whose aim is “to stop Scotland being energy self-sufficient.”

He went on: ‘We’re in the grips of recession which is strangling investment and we have a bunch of people who have some problems about cumulative impact of windfarms. And yet they don’t have any solutions to the problem apart from nuclear power stations.

‘They’re also opposed to the Beauly-Denny power line. In other words, they’re trying to keep us somewhere in the Middle Ages.”

Insisting that giant turbines and super pylons are not a blight on the landscape, Mr Gibson claimed the critics were pitting today’s population “against future generations’ ability to have clean energy”.