Dave Morris of Ramblers Scotland will be representing the concerns of many Scots interested in the preservation of wild land when he objects to the over-development of onshore wind turbines and power lines (Letters, January 19).
However, in turning his fire on UK Government policy it is he who is focused on the wrong target.
While overall energy policy is indeed reserved to Westminster, competence for the banding of the Renewables Obligation – the subsidy Mr Morris refers to – is devolved to Scottish Ministers. So, if the subsidy regime needs to change to divert more money to support offshore wind, wave and tidal development, then it is Scottish, not UK, ministers who have the power to do that.
Moreover, the setting of renewable energy targets and planning policy are both matters for the Scottish Parliament, and it is the SNP’s target of 100% electricity from renewable sources by 2020 which is driving the current expansion in onshore wind. The Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy & Tourism Committee, which I convene, will shortly be conducting an inquiry into the achievability of this target.
SNP planning policy seems to be focused on granting consent to large numbers of onshore wind turbines. We regularly see wind farm developments rejected by local planning committees, consisting of democratically elected local representatives, but then granted on appeal to Scottish Ministers in the teeth of vigorous opposition.
Murdo Fraser MSP, Scottish Conservative, Mid-Scotland & Fife,
The Scottish Parliament,
I have to agree with Dave Morris. The UK Government is indeed primarily responsible for the crazy financial incentives which encourage the energy companies to plaster our hills with wind turbines and power lines. These subsidies need to be scrapped.
UK energy policy is a reserved matter, but if the Scottish Government had any real wish to bring a halt to the damaging onslaught upon Scotland’s world-renowned landscape by wind farm developers, it has the means to do so as planning is a devolved matter. It has chosen not to do so.
Since May 2007 the Scottish Government has determined 57 energy applications, including approval for 48 new renewable and four non-renewable projects since May 2007. Another 35 applications (29 onshore wind, two hydro, four bio/thermal and one coal) are currently being processed.
It has also set a target of meeting the equivalent of 100% of electricity demand from renewables by 2020. With tidal and wave generation in its infancy, and offshore remaining eye-wateringly costly to the private investor, construction of industrial scale onshore wind by mainly foreign-owned companies, in large part paid for by the consumer and the taxpayer by means of subsidy and the public purse, remains the only truly viable option available as a possible means of achieving that aim.
So let no-one be duped into thinking the SNP Scottish Government is somehow less culpable than any other political party of destroying Scotland’s greatest asset – her landscape – and selling Scotland short in this chasing of the renewable rainbow.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding