November 4, 2012

SNP rocked by backlash over rise of wind farms

By Hamish Macdonell | The Scottish Mail on Sunday | 4 November 2012

A majority of people from every part of the country oppose wind and do not want to see them spoiling the wild landscape of Britain, according to a poll published today.

In a survey which deals a major blow to Alex Salmond’s attempts to make Scotland the wind energy capital of the world, researchers found widespread opposition to wind turbines in every part of the United Kingdom.

Angry at the way in which pro-wind organisations have claimed that the people of Britain support wind energy, the Scottish-based John Muir Trust decided to commission its own UKwide poll. The results make devastating reading for the wind energy lobby because they show that, if offered the choice, most Britons would opt for unspoilt countryside over wind turbines.

The YouGov poll of more than 2,000 people across the country found 40 per cent of the population want politicians to protect the country’s wild landscapes from wind farms.

Only 28 per cent said they wanted to see wind turbines given priority over the landscape.

In a significant setback for SNP Ministers who claim wind turbines make the countryside more attractive, the survey found 43 per cent of Britons would be less likely to visit an area littered with windmills. Mr Salmond has made it clear he would like Scotland to lead the world in the use of renewable energy.

Last week, he announced that he wanted half of all of our electricity to be generated from renewable sources only three years from now – inevitably requiring an explosion in the number of wind turbines erected in the countryside.

John Muir Trust chief executive Stuart Brooks said: ‘This poll confirms that there is a growing groundswell of opposition to the siting of large-scale wind farms on wild land – much of which is in Scotland.

‘This sends a clear message to politicians of all parties who have supported policies to industrialise our landscapes with wind turbines double the height of the Scott Monument.

‘The poll shows that the goal of protecting our beautiful and dramatic landscapes has widespread support across all social classes and in almost every region of the UK.’

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser, convener of the economy, energy and tourism committee, said: ‘This flies in the face of assertions by the SNP Government and its friends in the wind industry that most people in Scotland are happy to see wind turbines blanketing the landscape.’

Scottish Renewables spokesman Jenny Hogan said: ‘The planning system ensures that only appropriately sited schemes get the go-ahead.’

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