Nearly 1,100 planning applications have been tabled for windfarms in Aberdeenshire since the SNP came to power at Holyrood.
Developers in neighbouring Moray lodged 182 proposals for turbine schemes in the same period. The figures represent increases of 998% and 810% respectively on the years before the Scottish administration was run by the Nationalists.
Last night, the Conservatives blamed First Minister Alex Salmond’s “obsession” with renewable energy for the huge increases.
The party’s chief whip, John Lamont, who released the figures, said: “Alex Salmond is sending out an unashamed message to windfarm companies across the world that Scotland’s hills, ridges and fields are fair game.”
However, a Scottish Government spokeswoman insisted the country had “astounding” green energy potential and ministers had a duty to “seize the opportunity to create tens of thousands of new jobs”.
Aberdeenshire Council processed 99 windfarm applications between 1999 and 2007 and Moray Council handled just 20 in the same period. The figures for 1997-2012 were 1,078 and 182 respectively. Moray Council planning convener Douglas Ross described the upsurge since Mr Salmond, MSP for Aberdeenshire East, took office as “truly staggering”. Peter Argyle, chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s infrastructure services committee, said the figures did “not come as a surprise” and highlighted the pressure local authority officers and some communities were under. He added that people in favour of wind power would be pleased the region was leading the way but the figures would “annoy and upset” those opposed to turbines.
Mr Lamont said: “The SNP has paid no regard to the feelings of communities, many of which are living under the constant threat of massive turbines glaring down from their once unspoiled landscape. The Scottish Government has set a target of generating 100% of electricity from renewables by 2020. Ministers have approved 29 of 35 major developments over 50 megawatts since 2007.
The figures showed Highland Council processed 336 application in the last five years, a 160% increase on the number examined between 1999 and 2007. Orkney Council has processed 410 applications since 2007, Western Isles 203 and Shetland 93.
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