Alex Salmond has come under fire after claiming that wind farms ‘enhance our appeal as a country’.
The SNP leader said yesterday there was ‘no serious evidence’ that giant turbines detract from Scotland’s countryside.
He also insisted: ‘One of Scotland’s attractions is that we are a green country committed to renewable energy.’
But campaigners attacked the comments as ‘a slap in the face’ to those areas that have been blighted by the ‘monstrosities’. They said his green energy drive is ruining Scotland’s natural beauty and threatening the tourism trade.
The First Minister’s remarks were part of a charm offensive aimed at green energy developers during a flagship industry event in Edinburgh. They come ahead of a protest at next week’s SNP conference about the spread of turbines.
Speaking at the low-carbon conference in Edinburgh, Mr Salmond insisted onshore wind farms do not seriously detract from Scotland’s scenery.
‘I don’t think there’s any serious evidence they are incompatible,’ he said. ‘On the contrary, I think one of Scotland’s attractions is that we are a green country committed to renewable energy. I think that enhances our appeal as a country.’
Linda Holt, of the Communities Against Wind Turbines pressure group, said: ‘Instead of parading around the world as a great green leader, Mr Salmond needs to get out into the Scottish countryside and meet the communities, including tourism stakeholders, whose lives and businesses are being ruined by turbines.
‘No one – apart from politicians – comes to Scotland to see a wind farm.
‘No one wants to live next door to a wind farm. No one climbs a mountain to see a wind farm.’
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland called for a moratorium on wind farm developments in a manifesto sent to Mr Salmond last month.
Chief officer David Gibson said: ‘We consider the lack of adequate protection for our mountains and wild land from wind farms requires urgent action.’
The wind farm protest at the SNP conference in Perth next week is expected to be the biggest such demonstration ever held in Scotland.
Lyndsey Ward, one of the organisers, said she was ‘stunned’ by Mr Salmond’s comments, describing them as ‘a slap in the face’ for those suffering as a result of the spread of turbines.
Tory MSP Murdo Fraser, convener of the parliament’s energy committee, asked: ‘If imposing and unsightly turbines are such an aesthetic hit with the people of Scotland, why do they attract such widespread opposition?’
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