Fife is not closed to wind turbines – they just have to be in the right place, a leading councillor has said.
Fife Council administration leader Councillor Alex Rowley made his declaration despite the Scottish Government’s decision to reject his call for a windfarm moratorium in Fife.
On Tuesday, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing launched guidance designed to make planning applications for wind energy developments run more smoothly for developers, planning authorities and the communities affected.
Mr Ewing also announced an “onshore wind taskforce” which will look at ways to improve the planning consent process for onshore wind while keeping communities involved.
Mr Rowley told The Courier he was “at pains to say Fife is not anti-wind turbine.”
However, he still believed the applications should be handled differently.
“Communities should have a much larger stake in the benefits,” he said.
“However, I am at pains to say we are not anti-wind turbine.
“Fife is not closed to turbines, but they’ve got to be in the right place.
“The moratorium was to give us time to do that, but the decision of the Scottish Government to reject our call is not going to stop us from listening to what the public want.”
In Tuesday’s announcement about wind farm application guidance, Mr Ewing said: “The aim is to make the planning process for wind developments go more smoothly for everyone involved.
“The Scottish Government wants to see the right developments in the right places, and this guidance will help to ensure that.
“It will also make sure there are fewer unsuitable applications and that communities are properly consulted and informed.”
However, a spokesperson for Communities Against Turbines Scotland (Cats), which includes a number of Fife campaigners, said: “If Mr Ewing really wants to reconcile renewable energy with environmental concerns, he wouldn’t be grandstanding with an EU-funded project and producing yet more “guidance” which ruthless wind developers will just ignore.
“He would be listening to local communities in Scotland and respecting local democracy – and making sure developers did the same.
“Mr Ewing could, for instance, allow local authorities to impose temporary moratoria so they can develop planning policies to cope with the deluge of speculative turbine applications.
“He could also ensure planning departments had the resources to assess windfarm applications properly.
“In addition, he could make community councils fit for purpose in responding to turbine applications – often they are not even statutory consultees.
“He could also stop developers commissioning inevitably biased environmental impact assessments and pass this duty on to an independent, accountable body.
“And finally, he could impose a proper neighbour notification system for turbines so everyone affected is notified, not just immediate neighbours within 20 metres.”
The spokesman added the group wanted to see a mandatory two-kilometre distance for “industrial turbines” from human dwellings, as recommended by the British Medical Journal.
He said the group wanted to see the Scottish Government fund Scottish National Heritage (SNH) properly and allow it to be politically independent so safeguarding Scottish landscape and ecology was not sacrificed to the First Minister’s ambitions for a “Saudi Arabia of Wind”.
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