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Green energy policy branded bad for the environment

Scotland could easily achieve its ambitious green energy targets – but only at a cost to the environment, a conservation charity will tell MSPs.

The claim will be made by the John Muir Trust (JMT) at a parliamentary inquiry, due to open today, into the Scottish Government’s goal of generating the equivalent of 100% of Scotland’s own electricity demand from renewable sources by 2020.

One of the first to give evidence to Holyrood’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee will be Helen McDade, policy officer for the land charity.

Its submission says: “Achieving the renewables target primarily with industrial-scale wind generation would be a Pyrrhic victory – due to the cost to the environment, the economy and local communities, and the lack of substantial contribution to the greenhouse gas emissions reduction (GHG) targets.”

The JMT argues that if the 2020 renewable target is achieved primarily by wind-generated electricity, as is currently assumed, the consequences for the natural environment landscapes will be severe. It claims these changes will have a negative impact on tourism.

The JMT believes that an independent National Energy Commission is urgently needed to assess the technical and economic aspects of current Scottish and UK policy.

It also insists that the most effective way for public money to contribute to reduced GHG emissions within the UK is for tax or subsidies, which are levied as a contribution to energy and GHG emissions reductions measures, to be spent primarily on energy conservation.

Meanwhile, Scottish Natural Heritage has published new guidance to help wind farm development. It aims to help local authority planners and developers ensure developments are located in the right places.

l Atmos Consulting is claiming planning success for the Shiels wind farm in Aberdeenshire on behalf of Polar Energy. Three 100m turbines, by Laurencekirk, will power 4000 homes. Both Atmos and Aberdeenshire councillors have called for more planning guidance on large-scale wind farm developments.