May 23, 2012

SNP accused of ignoring protests over wind turbines

By Victoria Allen, Scottish Daily Mail, 23 May 2012

The Scottish Government has overruled councils on seven out of ten decisions to approve massive unwanted wind farms.

The extent of the Nationalists’ wind power obsession is laid bare by new figures on the number of turbines given the go-ahead since 2007.

Twenty-six out of 31 applications for large wind farms have been rubber-stamped – and only five rejected.

Wind farms producing more than 50 megawatts of power go straight to Scottish Ministers. However, councils can object and then the application goes to a public inquiry.

Local authorities have done this on ten occasions. But the Scottish Government has ignored their wishes, steam-rollering through seven to meet its deadline of producing 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity through renewables by 2020.

Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said: ‘These figures prove that time and time again local views are being ignored when wind farm planning applications are considered by the SNP.

‘So obsessed are they with blanketing the country with wind turbines, delivering expensive and intermittent power, that they ride roughshod over local opinion and grant approval.

‘What we need is a balanced energy policy, not a policy based almost entirely on one technology.

‘We also need to restore local decision-making so the opinions of communities actually count for something.’

The Scottish Government is quick to quote figures on wind farm planning applications sent to Ministers on appeal.

In the past five years, 89 have been appealed after councils rejected them, or failed to reach a decision, and 32 have then been approved.

However, it took a Daily Mail investigation to discover the SNP Government has approved 84 per cent of larger wind farms, including the Viking wind farm in Shetland, an enormous development of 103 turbines. More than 300 people had marched through Lerwick to oppose the wind farm, but in vain.

In the past five years, the SNP has waved through 19 hydroelectric schemes, four projects to harness wave power, one off-shore wind demonstrator and one gas and steam-fuelled turbine at Cockenzie in East Lothian. Linda Holt, of campaign group Communities Against Turbines Scotland, said: ‘It seems to be any time, any place, anywhere for big wind farms if you’re a determined enough developer and your project looks lucrative enough.

‘Regardless of the damage industrial wind development wreaks on the environment and people’s quality of life, regardless of grid connections or even wind resource, developers know the Scottish Government will side with them against the interests of communities.

‘There is growing anger in communities and councils across Scotland about the lack of local democracy. Developers don’t care but our MSPS should.’

A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘Planning authorities, and where appropriate, the Scottish Government, only allow wind farms to be built where the impacts have been found to be acceptable. Unsuitable applications are rejected.’

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