November 26, 2012

Councils ‘bullied over wind farms’

Robbie Dinwoodie, Chief Scottish Political Correspondent | The Herald | 26 November 2012 |

Ministers stand accused of bullying local authorities into softening their planning guidelines to encourage wind farms.

The Conservatives produced a letter from the Scottish Government to Dumfries and Galloway Council instructing it to re-categorise “areas of limited potential” to “areas of greatest opportunity” to provide a “more precise steer for wind developers”.

When officials said councils had their share of such developments, the Government said the argument was “not appropriate”.

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser, convener of Holyrood’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee, said: “It is quite unacceptable for the SNP to take this bullying tone with local authorities who have genuine concerns on the impact of its wind agenda. Councils know best what areas of their land are suitable for wind farm development, and having condescending memos from Edinburgh is frankly insulting.”

A Government spokesman said: “This is not the case. It is a legal requirement for local authorities to consult the Scottish Government on their emerging development plans, and the Scottish Government provides comments when consulted.”

Alex Fergusson, Conservative MSP for Galloway and West Dumfries, said: “I applaud the council’s efforts to bring some order to the process, but I am appalled at the Scottish Government’s dictatorial attitude which simply underlines its growing reputation for centralisation of decision making, all of which is to the detriment of local democracy.”

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