Ruth Davidson has accused Alex Salmond of pursuing a “scorched earth policy” by decimating the countryside with more wind farms than are needed for his green energy targets.
The Scottish Tory leader said official figures show the First Minister is on course to “overshoot” his targets by 20 per cent even if “the breaks are applied” to the rapid spread of wind power.
She said there was no need for the “march of the turbines” to continue but SNP ministers were unwilling to review the situation or listen to “besieged” communities’ concerns.
Miss Davidson delivered the attack during a keynote speech marking her first anniversary as leader in which she argued that the state in Scotland has become so bloated it is harming society.
As well as energy policy, she highlighted the educational “Berlin Wall” she aid exists between children living in the catchment areas of good schools and their peers living in poorer communities.
She said the overbearing scale of Scotland’s public sector was stifling enterprise and she wanted to cut income tax by more than 1p in the pound when MSPs get control over the levy in 2016.
However, she reserved her most vitriolic attack for Mr Salmond’s green energy targets, whereby half the equivalent of Scotland’s electricity would be generated from renewable sources by 2015 and all by 2020.
Miss Davidson said Scottish Parliament figures show the wind farms that are already operational, under construction or have planning permission could provide 63 per cent of electricity by 2015.
This proportion increases to 120 per cent – a fifth more than the entire country needs – if all the schemes currently in the planning system are approved.
Speaking in central Glasgow, the Tory leader said: “Communities across Scotland are crying out for some sense of balance amidst the SNP government’s headlong rush to carpet the countryside with wind turbines.
“Even if the brakes are applied, he (Salmond) will still overshoot the target. We are being led to believe that nothing can halt the march of the turbines when … an urgent re-examination is needed.”
She concluded: “With the SNP’s refusal to listen to local concerns, is this Mr Salmond’s version of a scorched earth policy? He might not be able to break up Britain but he’s devastating the landscape as he retreats.”
Miss Davidson used her speech to cite a series of examples to advance her argument that Scotland’s public sector has grown so large that it is threatening individuals’ freedom to choose.
On education, she argued that the state comprehensive system risks “entrenching” the divide between pupils from well-off and poor families by denying parents a choice of schools outside their catchment areas.
The Tory leader said this only serves to “cement Scotland’s educational Berlin Wall” but it is her party’s duty to “tear that wall down”.
State spending also needs curbing, she said, with the principle re-established that “the claim of an individual to the fruits of their labour is greater than that of the government.”
The Conservatives have already promised to cut income tax by 1p in the pound across all bands when Holyrood gets more tax powers, but Miss Davidson said she would support a larger reduction if this was affordable.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Scotland has astounding green energy potential and vast natural resources, and we have a responsibility to make sure our nation seizes this opportunity to create tens of thousands of new jobs and secure billions of pounds of investment in our economy.”
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