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SNP approves most large wind farms despite 10,000 objections  

Credit:  By Simon Johnson, Scottish Political Editor | The Telegraph | 15 January 2013 | www.telegraph.co.uk ~~

SNP ministers have approved the vast majority of the largest wind farm applications despite receiving nearly 10,000 objections from communities across Scotland, it has emerged.

Fergus Ewing, the Energy Minister, published figures showing ministers have received 9,868 protests over the past five years about wind developments that produce more than 50 megawatts.

Although there were barely 4,000 messages of support, the SNP administration has approved more than four out of five applications on which it has so far ruled.

The Scottish Conservatives, who uncovered the figures, said they should leave ministers in no doubt about the strength of community opposition to the spread of turbines across the countryside.

They were published as it emerged 40 representatives from every part of the Scottish Borders have joined forces for the first time in an attempt to stop “turbine creep”.

Murdo Fraser, convener of Holyrood’s energy committee, said the 10,000 total was the “thin end of the wedge” as it does not include objections to local councils to proposals for smaller wind farms.

“What is more galling is, despite receiving 10,000 objections, many of these wind farms were waved through anyway,” the Tory MSP said.

“The SNP’s wind energy obsession has to be curbed, otherwise every vista in Scotland will be at-risk from an invasion of great, white turbines.”

The figures show in 2008 ministers received 618 submissions backing the construction of large wind farms compared to 1,211 objections. Despite this, they approved three of the four applications presented to them.

In 2009 there were 1,549 messages of support for seven large wind farms compared to 3,109 protests. However, four were given planning consent.

The following year ministers received 256 submissions backing plans for wind farms and 903 objections but they approved two of the six. Three have yet to be ruled on and one was withdrawn.

In 2011 there were 1,567 messages of support and 1,966 of opposition to large turbine developments. Ministers have so far approved three of the 13 applications and rejected none.

Although none of last year’s nine applications for large wind farms have been ruled on yet, the Scottish Government received 2,679 letters of objections compared to only 60 backing the plans.

The Daily Telegraph disclosed last year how Scottish Borders Council has come under pressure from the SNP to alter its planning blueprint to allow more turbines even where officials consider them to have reached “saturation point”.

A new network has been set up between anti-wind farm campaigners across the region to foster greater communication and co-operation and ensure residents are aware of the spread of turbines.

Mark Rowley, head of Cranshaws, Ellemford and Longformacus community council, chaired a meeting of 40 groups. He said: “The real flood of wind farm applications is only just beginning even though the Scottish Borders has already reached saturation point.”

But Jenny Hogan, director of policy for industry body Scottish Renewables, said ast year’s proposals for the coal-fired power station at Hunterston attracted more than 22,000 objections.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland has open, inclusive and transparent planning processes which give the right protection to our magnificent landscapes, and which takes the views of local communities into account.”

Source:  By Simon Johnson, Scottish Political Editor | The Telegraph | 15 January 2013 | www.telegraph.co.uk

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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