Anti-windfarm campaigners warned Alex Salmond that his renewable energy policy could cost him Scottish independence.
Several hundred demonstrators marched on the SNP conference on Saturday in what was seen as a new militancy among groups objecting to the turbines. The event was timed to coincide with the first minister’s keynote speech to rally party members and extol the perceived virtues of separation.
One of the organisers, Linda Holt, said: “Today proves windfarms are a political problem which the government ignores at its peril. Every new windfarm costs the first minister, the SNP government and ultimately the independence campaign, support.
“Folk here are questioning whether they can trust a leader and a party that oversees what some are calling a Second Clearance in the name of a white elephant technology which can never deliver what it promises.”
The march attracted about 450 people from across Scotland. A blimp – used in a protest against a windfarm planned for Kiltarlity, near Inverness – was flown above the conference venue to demonstrate the height of turbines.
George Herraghty, of Lhanbryde, Moray, a member ofMorayMountaineeringClub and the JohnMuir Trust, said: “Our children will inherit this environmental devastation.”
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing met demonstrators who demanded a moratorium on new windfarms. Scottish tourism chiefs have officially opposed plans for a windfarm development – claiming they could have a “detrimental” impact on holidaymakers.
VisitScotland issued an objection to a development nearLockerbie in Dumfries and Galloway on the grounds that the windfarm could drive away visitors.
The taxpayer-funded agency’s move was made only days after Alex Salmond claimed windfarms “enhance our appeal as a country”, and putmore pressure on the SNP to order a moratorium on further developments.
Tory MSP Murdo Fraser, convener of the Scottish Parliament’s energy and tourism committee, said: “If windfarms damage tourism in one area of Scotland, this is surely the case the country over. This is a message communities reliant on the tourist trade have been trying to get through to the Scottish Government for years.”
There are 131 onshore windfarms in Scotland with another 304 under construction having received planning consent. If those in the planning stage are developed it could result inmorethan 5,000 turbines across the country.
VisitScotland has repeatedly said it was not against windfarm developments. But its recent response to a controversial 10-turbine project near Lockervie, contradicts that view.