Anti-windfarm campaigners have warned the Scottish Government’s new turbine conservation zones may leave Tayside and parts of central Scotland at the heart of a feeding frenzy.
Scotland Against Spin fears that the region’s unprotected status may see some of the country’s most aggressive renewables firms target Angus, Perth and Kinross and Fife for wind power development.
That would leave picturesque areas such as the Angus Glens, Highland Perthshire, the Ochils and the Carse of Gowrie facing the spectre of becoming home to hundreds of metal towers.
The warnings come in the week that new draft planning policies were unveiled in an apparent bid to protect some of Scotland’s wildest and most scenic land.
They seek to prohibit windfarms in the near 20% of the country which has been allocated national park or scenic area status.
The draft planning policies include provision for strengthening environmental protection against windfarms in those areas identified as having significant landscape value.
Having had time to digest the proposals, however, campaigners have described them as a “half-hearted gesture” on the part of a government that has no intention of halting their spread.
There is already intense pressure upon Fife and Tayside from firms looking to create green energy projects, with a significant number already in the planning process.
And Scotland Against Spin spokeswoman Linda Holt believes that with the pockets of protection the Government has done nothing more than signpost developers directly towards the region as they look for new sites.
“The introduction of these protected areas will simply send to developers the message that the rest of Scotland is fair game,” she said.
“The proposals offer no significant new protections to any part of the country. They simply give the developers a few new hoops to jump through.
“Making it more difficult to develop in these areas will however inevitably put greater pressure upon unprotected areas such as Perth and Kinross.
“Developers will be looking at these areas and thinking that it will be easier to develop there and I think that is the real problem.
“The implicit message from the Scottish Government to wind developers is that they want to see wind turbines in Perth and Kinross and other unprotected regions.
Ms Holt added: “These proposals are a sign that the Government sees that it needs to do something but does not really want to take the action required to stop this feeding frenzy.
“And at present not even half of the wind farms already consented have actually been built. People don’t yet realise just what is coming.”
Ms Holt’s comments were echoed by Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser, who has long campaigned against the spread of turbines across Scotland – and in particular in areas of his picturesque constituency.
He said the proposals were no more than a “step in the right direction” towards protecting the country’s scenic and rural areas.
“The concern for many residents is that developers will increase the pressure on the remaining available land, resulting in over-saturation in some areas,” he said.
A consultation event on all the proposals contained within the new draft planning policies will be held at the Overgate Centre in Dundee on Tuesday May 28 9am to 6pm.
Questionnaires to allow people to comment on the proposals can also be found at scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Built-Environment/ planning/NPF3-SPP-Review.
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