The level of scrutiny given to wind farm developments has been called into question after it emerged that ministers have approved 83% of all major applications submitted since 2007.
The Scottish Government has given the green light to 29 out of 35 onshore developments over that time, official figures reveal.
Conservatives said the “alarming rate” is proof of the Holyrood administration’s determination to build more wind farms, “despite widespread concern from local communities, tourism bodies and even defence chiefs”, as they questioned the degree of analysis given to each application.
But the Scottish Government insisted all applications had been considered carefully. The figures were revealed by energy minister Fergus Ewing following a parliamentary question by Tory MSP John Lamont.
Broken down by local authority area, the statistics reveal seven developments were approved in the Highlands and three applications were backed in Moray. Dumfries and Galloway, Shetland and South Ayrshire all saw two applications given consent since 2007.
Mr Lamont, the Conservatives’ chief whip in Scotland, said: “We now have hard evidence about just how pro-wind farms the SNP is. The message this sends out to big wind farm companies is, ‘Come straight to us and you have an 80% chance of success’.
“It is bad enough that the Scottish Government overturns rejections made by local council, even after local people have said no, planning officials have said no and councillors have said no. But people will now be asking what kind of scrutiny are ministers giving to these applications?
“Wind farms are intermittent and unreliable and, worse still, people across Scotland are genuinely concerned that they are spoiling the countryside they love. We know that turbines could damage tourism, as well as having a significant impact on the scenery enjoyed by locals. The SNP has to drop this costly obsession with wind energy before it is too late.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Scottish ministers consider major applications carefully, considering the views expressed in all submissions made by members of the public, concerned organisations and consultees, and taking into account all material considerations, including the impact on the local environment.
“Of the 35 wind farm decisions taken by Scottish ministers since 2007, they have backed the opinion of the local authority over 70% of the time.”
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