January 25, 2013

How devolution led to spread of wind farms

By Alan Roden, Scottish Political Editor | Scottish Daily Mail | 25 January 2013 |

The spread of wind farms i n Scotland has taken place without ‘major steps to increase public engagement’, says a new report.

Academics who studied green energy in the UK concluded that devolution has been key to the pace of development.

But they found a ‘concentration of energy decision-making powers in devolved governments’.

The findings come after it emerged that four out of five major wind farm bids are waved through by the Scottish Government to meet green energy targets.

Last night, the Tories said the SNP administration ‘ must listen to councils more’ amid concerns about the number of turbines.

The Tories have accused ministers of having ‘no idea how much of Scotland’s land is being taken up with wind farm development’.

Their attack comes after a request for the acreage involved returned the answer: ‘The Scottish Government does not hold the information requested.’

The latest research was undertaken by Cardiff University, Queens University Belfast, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Aberdeen University and Birmingham University.

The authors highlight Alex Salmond’s support for renewable energy: ‘One key effect of devolution is that political power has fallen to a party with a long-term interest in energy and a technical grasp of the issue.’

Dr Richard Cowell, principal investigator at Cardiff University, said: ‘We can point to actions by the devolved governments – especially Scotland – that have shown significant support to renewable energy in the UK.’

But he added: ‘Devolved governments have not taken major steps to increase public engagement in renewable energy development.’

The report states: ‘The period coincident with devolution has been associated with a sustained concentration of energy decision-making powers, in central government and in the devolved governments.’

Tory MSP John Lamont said: ‘It is unbelievable that the SNP has no idea how much of Scotland’s land is being taken up with wind farm development. For a Scottish Government so fixated on wind energy, this is a staggering oversight.’

But a Government spokesman said: ‘The Scottish Government considers applications on their individual merits to ensure that development only goes ahead in the right places.’

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2013/01/25/how-devolution-led-to-spread-of-wind-farms/