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‘We demand facts over backyard windfarms’

A campaign has been launched to give better protection to people who live near the sites of proposed windfarms.

Holyrood’s public petitions committee is being urged to consider a call for the neighbour notification distance for applications to be extended beyond 65ft of a development so more people can have a say on the plans.

Windfarm protester Aileen Jackson wants the rules changed so householders and businesses within a distance of 10 times the height of the turbines – to their blade tip – are notified.

That could involve householders and businesses a mile away from a proposed development with 528ft masts. Ms Jackson’s plea has already won support from Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson.

The campaigner said there were often no properties within 65ft of planned developments in rural areas – which meant people were “potentially denied” the chance to make representations about structures which could affect their homes and quality of life.

Ms Jackson said not everyone had access to a computer to view online planning notices, or the ability to examine paperwork at local libraries.

She claimed the extension could be financed by increasing planning application fees.

Ms Davidson said people often did not realise the impact of a windfarm “until it’s too late”.

“The creation of a windfarm has a far greater impact on a community than the average planning application,” she said.

“For that reason it’s only right that those from a greater distance should be informed.

“Often people don’t realise the impact of a windfarm until it’s too late, and if it weren’t for pro-active campaign groups many would have been waved through without much of a challenge at all.

“Anything that boosts local awareness can only be a good thing.”

Windfarm protester Denise Davis, of Kiltarlity in Inverness-shire, said: “I support this call 100% because people living that close to a windfarm should be informed because they are going to see and hear turbines and it is going to change their lives.”

Fellow campaigner Lyndsey Ward, of Beauly, said it was “absolutely ludicrous” that people who lived in houses just over 65ft away from proposed turbines of any size did not have to be told.

She added that the “relentless dash” for wind subsidies meant applications were hard to keep track of and claimed it was something that potential developers took full advantage of. Ms Ward said: “I would support any action to increase awareness and notify neighbours of potential turbines close to their homes as the current regulations are woefully inadequate.

“No one has time to scour the papers or councils’ websites every day to check if there has been yet another wind turbine application submitted that will affect them.”

A year ago, Aberdeen City Council was criticised by officials at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club who claimed they were not told that a 218ft turbine was being erected next to one of the course’s signature holes.

Ms Jackson is a member of Uplawmoor Windfarm Protest Group which is opposed to development plans near Glasgow. A Scottish Governments pokeswoman said it wanted to see “the right developments in the right places” and communities properly consulted and all views taken into account.

She added that SNP ministers would await the committee’s consideration of the petition.