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Cost of dealing with wind farm appeals revealed

A Freedom of Information request by the Scottish Conservatives highlights the cost to the local council of windfarm applications in the Borders.

After receiving the information the Conservatives say that the figures show that Scottish Borders Council has spent nearly £226,990 processing wind farm applications.

However, there seems to be some confusion about the figures as Scottish Borders Council say that these figures only relate to staff and consultants’ costs for dealing with appeals, and do not take into account the staff time spent on processing applications as they come in.

Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire Conservative MSP John Lamont said: “These figures show the true extent of the damage caused by the SNP’s reckless energy policies. In ruthlessly pursuing wind energy they have encouraged firms to flood local authorities with applications for new wind farms, taking up a huge amount of time and money.

“Instead of this money being spent on improving services and facilities in the Scottish Borders, it is going towards legal fees and processing countless planning applications. This is clearly a waste of money and I am sure that taxpayers in the Borders would much rather see their money spent elsewhere.

“It is especially frustrating when having made a decision to reject an application, the SNP end up overturning it and granting permission anyway. This is not only completely against the views of the local residents who will be affected, it also means that the money spent by the council in rejecting the application was for nought.

“The SNP’s love affair with wind farms is costing people in the Borders a huge amount of money. More must be done to bring this cost under control before we see investment in services in the Borders suffer further.”

An SBC spokesperson said: “The FOI information appears to have related only to consultants’ fees for appeals, and it doesn’t include staff time.

“Whilst the council question response includes an estimate for staff time, again the information only relates to appeals. None of the information that’s circulating includes staff time for processing the actual applications (and we don’t collect this).”

The money Scottish Borders Council has taken in fees for wind farm applications since 2004 totals £380,669.

Earlier this year SBC leader, Councillor David Parker said: “Scottish Borders Council have long been of the view that the application fees that we receive for wind farm planning applications are wholly inadequate and do not cover the costs of processing and dealing with these applications.”