- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Wind farm planning requests may cost the taxpayer millions

Taxpayers are facing a bill of up to £490,000 for applications to build wind farms in one area of Scotland alone.

Councils spend thousands of pounds processing the seven applications a day made north of the Border by developers.

Orkney Council has spent £488,886 in five years to pay for planners, consultants and legal fees, while Scottish Borders Council spent £226,990, an investigation by the Scottish Conservatives found.

But the true cost to taxpayers is likely to run into millions because the other 30 councils could not provide a total figure.

Clackmannanshire, Midlothian, North Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire councils spent £82,360 on fees over five years.

Fife and Shetland councils did not respond to the question and Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen have received no wind farm applications. Fife and Moray councils have become so overwhelmed by applications, they have asked for a moratorium to stop developers sending them in. The remaining 21 councils could not provide a figure.

Liz Smith, Tory MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: ‘It is nothing for a major energy firm to throw in speculative applications for inappropriate wind farms, but councils then have to pour in all kinds of resources to resolve them, even if it’s a completely unrealistic submission.’

The Tories are urging the Scottish Government to publish how much the country spends dealing with applications, of which there were 1,800 last year.

The scale of the costs was disclosed by the former planning convenor of Scottish Borders Council, Carolyn Riddell-Carre, in her appearance before the Scottish Government’s economy, energy and tourism committee in March. She said: ‘The fee for a single turbine is £638 but servicing the application costs the council a minimum of £3,000.’

The Tories’ figures show £800,000 was spent on wind farm planning bids at the six councils which replied to the survey.

Susan Crosthwaite, chairman of Campaign Against Turbines Scotland, said: ‘Developers get enough subsidy from the public through consumer energy bills to pay for wind farm development.’

The Scottish Government held a consultation on proposals for more proportionate charges but a moratorium on applications has been refused.

A spokesman said: ‘Ministers understand that many planning authorities have seen an increase in the number of applications for wind turbine developments and recognise this is a challenge.

‘That is why we have made £300,000 available to planning authorities with the greatest need to help provide for the effective operation of the planning system.’