The number of appeals against council rejections of windfarm planning applications has more than trebled in the past year.
The number of cases handled by the Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals shot up by 353% from 15 in 2010-11 to 53 in 2011-12.
A leading north-east firm of planning consultants said the figures could indicate local authorities were taking a “harder line”.
But council planners said there was no toughening of attitudes and the increase was because of the flood of new applications.
Last month, the Scottish Government rejected Moray Council’s call for a moratorium on new applications while a public consultation was carried out.
Council planning chairman Douglas Ross said the higher number of appeals reflected the rise in planning applications and subsequent pro-rata refusals.
“It may also be the case that applicants feel there is a softening in the approach to wind turbines from the Scottish Government, given their ambition to have 100% of energy from renewable sources by 2020,” he said.
“So maybe it’s not the planning committees which take a harder view, but the government being seen as an easy option to overturn a decision taken by councillors.”
Aberdeenshire Council’s infrastructure chairman Peter Argyle – who also wanted a moratorium – said the increase was the “inevitable consequence” of the sheer number of applications.
“The more applications there are the more issues of cumulative impact on communities, landscape and amenities,” he said.
“It is more likely that applications could be refused because of these issues. If that can be interpreted as a hardening of attitude, I would not go that far.”
Robert Murphy, of planning consultants Smith Gore, said the number of appeals over windfarms was second only to appeals by householders.
“This suggests that more developers are bringing forward more schemes for planning that are subsequently being refused, and could also indicate a harder line among planning committees,” he said.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “An applicant’s right to appeal a planning authority decision is enshrined in law.”
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