The decision by Highland Council to reject the planning application for the Allt Duine Wind Farm, on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park, is most welcome (“Wind farm plan rejected by Highland councillors”, The Herald, January 18).
At last local councillors are prepared to stand up for Scotland’s scenery and the enjoyment of the outdoors and not be swayed by an energy company and its special pleading.
But your editorial, in raising questions about the SNP Government’s energy policy, is focused on the wrong target (“Turbulent times ahead for SNP energy policy”, January 18). It is not Scottish politicians in Holyrood who are the problem, it is Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians in Westminster who are the main threat to Scotland’s scenery and tourism industry.
Energy policy is a reserved matter and it is the UK Government that is primarily responsible for the crazy financial incentives which encourage the energy companies to plaster our hills with wind turbines and powerlines. These subsidies need to be scrapped and the money saved; diverted to support offshore wind, wave and tidal development.
There are many Scottish Conservative politicians who agree that the current UK Government energy policy is a disaster for Scotland. But I am told that the Prime Minister believes lots of land-based wind turbines are essential to give the UK Government some green credibility, just so long as those turbines are not spoiling the scenery of southern England.
The message appears to be: there is plenty of open space in Scotland, so stick them there. And there is not much that Scottish Conservatives can do about this, when there are more pandas in Edinburgh than Scottish Tory MPs in Westminster.
Where are the LibDems? Danny Alexander has his fingers on the UK Government’s purse strings as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. He is a Highland MP, living in Aviemore, within a mile or so of the proposed Allt Duine Wind Farm. He used to work for the Cairngorms National Park Authority. Does he not care about our wild places? Do LibDem MPs have no influence on UK Government energy policy? What are they there for, when everyone in the UK is having to subsidise an energy policy which is causing so much damage to Scotland, a country renowned worldwide for its magnificent, wild and beautiful scenery?
Please, will someone tell him that, in the history of public subsidy, never has so much damage been caused for so little benefit for so few people. If he cannot do anything about this in Westminster, perhaps he should go for a long walk in the Cairngorms.
While I welcome the decision by Highland Council to reject the planning application for the Allt Duine Wind Farm, I feel we have to question the planning guidelines which allowed their planning officials to recommend “no objection” to this clearly inappropriate development.
Obviously these guidelines are not adequate to protect our precious wild landscape. I have no doubt, however, that in the fullness of time, the Scottish Government will approve the development, such is its desperation to meet questionable renewables targets.
RWE npower renewables pleads that the development is supported by the local community council. This is likely to be because it realises there will be a financial benefit. I contend that the landscape is not theirs to sell. It belongs to all of Scotland’s people.
Your leader rightly questions whether the Government’s energy policy is sustainable in light of the damage being caused to our wild places. Indeed there are areas of Scotland, particularly in the south, where I fear it is already too late to save the landscape. The First Minister has suggested that offshore windpower costs must fall by 20% to make it commercially viable. Without massive subsidy no wind farm would be commercially viable.
Let’s take electricity planning out of the hands of politicians, for whom it is far too complex, and set up an independent engineering-led body to arrive at a proper evidence-based way forward.
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