The Scottish Government has been accused before a UN committee of failing to provide communities with detailed environmental information to justify the building of wind farms.
Campaigners also claim that it is pursuing its controversial renewables policy without adequate public participation and without having a proper strategic plan in place.
Communities Against Turbines (Cats), an anti-wind farm group, said ministers had now been asked by the committee to prove in writing that they had complied with European legislation while backing the construction of thousands of turbines in the Scottish countryside.
A community council from Argyll raised the complaint under the Aarhus Convention, which places a duty on governments to make environmental information available to citizens when projects affect the environment. Christine Metalfe, a member of Avich and Kilchrenan Community Council, took the complaint to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) Aarhus Compliance Committee in Geneva last week.
The council claims its challenges were ignored when it questioned figures stating that CO2 emissions would be reduced through the construction of the Carraig Gheal wind farm in Argyll, and a Forestry Commission access road.
The 20-turbine project near Loch Awe is now under construction and Susan Crosthwaite, of Cats, said there was a concern that the forestry road could be used as a “wind farm motorway providing access for even more wind farms” around the hills above Scotland’s longest loch.
“It is therefore of great importance that these issues of access to information, public participation and access to justice are able to be discussed,” she said.
“The Scottish Government seems to be incessantly driving toward meeting its meaningless targets, and it has quite failed to demonstrate that no matter now many wind turbines and wind farms are installed, no clear benefits are shown to the citizens and the communities who have to play host to these industrial turbines all over the country.”
Ms Crosthwaite said that too often, the developer’s own impact assessment was relied on by ministers and claimed it was up to developers to prove that building a wind farm was more important than protecting the natural environment.
She said minsters would also have to explain at a further UN hearing next year why the Scottish Government’s Renewable Routemap 2020 – the blueprint for wind farm development – was still officially in draft form after years of development.
Ministers want renewable generation to account for 50 per cent of Scottish electricity demand by 2015.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said it would answer any questions from UNECE about its plans “for the development of renewable energy in Scotland and the journey to a low-carbon future”. He said that before making a decision on a wind farm, Scottish ministers “carefully consider the views expressed in submissions from members of the public, organisations and consultees, and take into accouny all material considerations, including the impact on the local environment”.
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