November 26, 2012

Revive Countryside Party to oppose wind farms says councillor

The Northern Times | 26 November 2012 |

The seats of Highland MSPs could be targeted at the next election by an anti-wind farm party, if it is resurrected, to fight against the controversial developments.

Jim Crawford wants to revive the dormant Countryside Party to campaign against the number of turbines being approved by the Scottish Government across the region and rest of the country.

The Highland councillor, who is barred from taking part in debates or votes about any wind farms submitted to the local authority for planning permission because of his views, was incensed after a parliamentary committee last week concluded there was no evidence that renewable energy developments were hurting the tourism industry.

Councillor Crawford said he could now reform the minor political party – which fought on rural issues and polled 1,768 votes in the Scottish Parliament 2003 elections for the Highlands and Islands region – if he can attract enough pledges of physical and logistical support from individuals and organisations in the coming weeks.

The party would then campaign for a moratorium on further wind farm schemes.

Councillor Crawford, a founding member, said it could then target key seats in the 2016 parliament elections, like the Inverness and Nairn constituency held by the energy minister Mr Ewing and other national politicians in areas where wind turbines had become a major issue.

“People are saying enough is enough about wind farms,” said Councillor Crawford. “We could target seats and a very good one would be Fergus Ewing’s seat. I have been on marches, signed petitions and knocked on MSPs’ doors – they just ignore you. But if you can get into Holyrood or Westminster beside them they can’t.

“I am just waiting to see what physical help is offered. If we go ahead there is an enormous tide of people who will be with us.”

Councillor Crawford (Inverness South) said a range of groups like conservation trusts, mountaineers and anglers could become involved.

He said if the party managed to secure two or three seats it could have real influence at the parliament.

The party was formed in 2000 by Councillor Crawford as an offshoot of the Countryside Alliance, which led fierce opposition to the UK Government’s moves to ban fox hunting with hounds.

Councillor Crawford said 400,000 people had marched in 2003 in London against a ban on fox hunting and claimed there was a similar strength of feeling growing against wind farms.

Councillor Crawford claimed people in Caithness were fed up of wind farm developments and if the community had a choice would prefer to have a new nuclear power station instead.

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