The Scottish Government says it is “disappointed” at Scottish Borders Council’s “negative language” when it comes to wind farm development.
So disappointed in fact that government officials have asked for discussions with Borders planners “about the content of your current policy”.
The Scottish Government was consulted when Scottish Borders Council began drawing up a local plan for the region – laying out how the land should be designated. A Freedom of Information Request reveals the correspondence between the two bodies.
Having consulted the Scottish Government in 2010 about their wind farm guidelines and received no formal objections, SBC’s planners were surprised that the government has now decided they “do not comply with national requirements”.
The directorate for local government and communities, responding to the council’s draft local plan proposals, said: “We are disappointed with the negative language used in the Main Issues Report around renewables and in particular onshore wind energy, which does not appear to be in the spirit of the SPP (Scottish Planning Policy).
“We are concerned that authorities should also recognise the positive benefits of wind energy developments. It is regretable that the only alternative option suggested is a negative one stating that the Borders landscape is at saturation point for wind turbines.
“We are concerned this departs from the framework approach that the Scottish Government has set out and therefore fails to deliver the broad areas of search that guidance aims to provide.”
SBC replied: “The council has been very proactive and has embraced the national thrust for supporting wind turbines in appropriate locations.
“The council is well aware of the need for renewable energy but equally it has a statutory duty to protect the Scottish Borders landscape from proposals which can have an adverse impact on it.
“The council has taken on board all feedback received. It is satisfied the document complies with national planning guidance requirements. Having carried out this considerable volume of work, it is consequently a major concern to the Scottish Borders Council that as part of the Main Issues Report consultation, the Scottish Government have now stated that the SPG does not comply with national requirements.
“We are unaware on what grounds this can be quantified, or why this has now been stated a year after its approval when no formal objections have been raised during the consultation.”
A spokesperson for newly Scottish Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse reads: “Scottish ministers are clear that the inclusion of spatial frameworks for onshore wind farms is an essential part of the development plan as stated in Scottish Planning Policy and in supporting planning advice.”
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