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SNP urged to protect countryside from windfarms

The Scottish Government has been urged to draw up a national planning policy to protect the “precious” countryside from “inappropriate” windfarms.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCoS) issued the plea after a local authority rejected three applications for turbines to be installed in its area.

David Gibson, chief officer for the MCoS, hit out at First Minister Alex Salmond’s “seeming willingness to allow power companies to industrialise our landscapes by building vast windfarms in highly inappropriate settings”.

He also insisted it was “completely wrong that companies can waste public time and money by putting forward grossly unsuitable applications of this kind”.

Mr Gibson said: “We are not opposed to renewables – we simply recognise that our wild lands and open spaces are fundamental to Scotland’s character and identity.”

He said Highland Council had rejected three “dreadful windfarm applications” at Dalnessie, Glenmorie and Clach Liath in the last few days.

The MCoS chief officer added: “It is time the Scottish Government started listening and changed its direction.”

Mr Gibson said his organisation had repeatedly urged the SNP administration to act on the issue but claimed “it misses every opportunity and simply appears weak in its failure to care for the Scottish countryside” .

He stated: “There are real concerns that planning departments, with limited resources, are being seriously overstretched by inappropriate windfarm applications by large energy companies which are happy to industrialise Scotland’s mountains for the sake of their own profits.

“Scotland needs a national renewables spatial planning policy to decide what can be built where.

“This would stop unsuitable, speculative planning applications and protect our precious countryside while allowing green energy schemes to be developed in suitable places.”