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Windfarm applications ‘made easy’

New guidance aimed at easing conflicts over windfarm applications was launched by the Scottish Government yesterday.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said the advice should make the planning system run more smoothly for developers, councils and affected communities.

It is the result of the GP Wind Project, a Scottish Government-led EU scheme to look at barriers to wind development and ways of reconciling green energy objectives with environmental concerns.

The guidelines were developed with a range of organisations, including the RSPB, Western Isles Council, Scottish and Southern Energy, and Scottish Power Renewables.

Mr Ewing said: “We have set an ambitious, but achievable, renewable energy target and we are determined to ensure that communities all over Scotland benefit from our renewable energy revolution, which is already bringing jobs and investment.

“But we are determined that this should be done in a sustainable way, sympathetic to the needs of communities and protecting the environment and our fantastic natural heritage.”

Western Isles Council leader Angus Campbell said if the islands were to benefit from the resource, ways must be found to address the challenges hampering wind generation.

Highland Tory MSP Mary Scanlon said the government had not explained how it would address the fears of communities. “Guidance may be useful, but the SNP wants to continue developing windfarms across Scotland, often in the face of strong local opposition,” she said.

Douglas Ross, planning chairman of Moray Council, which had its request for a moratorium on new windfarms rejected by the government, said the guidance did not answer what happens if communities say “enough is enough”.

Nick Orpwood, of Concerned about Wind Turbines in Aberdeenshire, said if planners and developers follow the guidance it could be a step forward.

But Communities Against Turbines Scotland said that, rather than producing more guidance, Mr Ewing should listen to communities and councils.