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Councils don’t know how much they’re spending on windfarm applications

The majority of councils across Scotland have no idea how much they are spending on processing windfarm applications as firms inundate them with planning applications.

Only nine local authorities were able to give any kind of indication about how much was spent dealing with submissions, and only two were able to work out an overall cost – totalling nearly £750,000.

Most said that the vast number of windfarm applications coming into the planning system was making it difficult to calculate the overall cost, and given windfarm applications were part the general planning process, no exact cost could be given in many instances.

As a result, the Scottish Conservatives have called for the Scottish Government to calculate the sheer cost burden of such applications on councils.

Three local authorities this year asked for a moratorium on windfarm applications, such was the financial and resource burden of such large-scale applications.

But this has been rejected by the SNP, which instead wants to encourage even more bids to suit its renewable energy policy.

The revelation comes as anti-windfarm protestors prepare to march in Perth on Saturday to coincide with the SNP conference.

City authorities like Glasgow and Edinburgh received no windfarm bids, due to their urban setting, but Scottish Borders said £227,000 had been spent working on applications since 2007, while in Orkney that cost was nearly £500,000.

Four other councils spent tens of thousands on consultant and legal fees, meaning the total spend of only six relatively small authorities was around £800,000 over five years.

And with two authorities failing to respond, that suggests the total cost across Scotland could run into several millions of pounds.

Scottish Conservative Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Liz Smith said:

“We know councils all over Scotland are really struggling to cope with the sheer burden large-scale windfarm applications bring, particularly if there are several of them.

“But it is extremely worrying that so many of these local authorities are unable to outline to overall financial cost of this, especially when at least three have called for a moratorium.

“And if we look at those who have been able to quantify costs, the suggestion has to be that this cost must run into several millions.

“It is nothing for a major energy firm to throw in speculative applications for completely inappropriate windfarms, but councils then have to pour in all kinds of resources to resolve it, even if it’s a completely unrealistic submission.

“Council tax payers should not have to foot the bill for the SNP’s obsession with windfarms.

“It is bad enough that the views of communities are ignored when council rejections of windfarms are overturned in Holyrood.

“We now need the Scottish Government and local authorities to work together to estimate some kind of cost to all this.

“That would allow an informed decision on moratoriums to be made, meaning hard-pressed council resources could be better used.”

The following councils were able to detail a total cost of windfarm applications since 2007:

Orkney – £488,886

Scottish Borders – £226,990

The following councils spent the following on legal and consultant fees since 2007:

Clackmannanshire – £2350

Midlothian – £56,158

North Ayrshire – £13,767

South Lanarkshire – £10,085

Overall known total – £798,236

City authorities like Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen did not receive applications for windfarms in that timeframe.

The following councils were unable to produce a figure:

Aberdeenshire

Angus

Argyll and Bute

Dumfries and Galloway

Dundee

East Ayrshire

East Dunbartonshire

East Lothian

East Renfrewshire

Falkirk

Highland

Inverclyde

Moray

North Lanarkshire

Perth and Kinross

Renfrewshire

South Ayrshire

Stirling

West Dunbartonshire

West Lothian

Western Isles

Both Fife and Shetland failed to respond.