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New planning proposals may ban turbines from national park

New planning regulations look set to strengthen efforts to keep wind turbines out of Scotland’s first national park.

Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority has consistently discouraged windfarms within its boundaries. It has also often actively objected to planning applications submitted to surrounding planning authorities where it considers the proposed turbines could blight the views from within the park.

Planning Minister Derek Mackay announced the third National Planning Framework (NPF3) and draft Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) earlier this week. The document will influence development plans across Scotland and guide future planning decisions on a range of sectors including transport, energy and infrastructure.

Within it, for the first time SPP will include references to maps of Scotland’s wild land – drawn up by Scottish Natural Heritage, and Ministers are also proposing extending the separation distance between windfarms and cities, towns and villages.

In relation to windfarms, proposals also include strengthening environmental protection in the 31 per cent of Scotland covered by the wildest and most scenic land, including no windfarms in the 19 per cent of Scotland covered by national parks and National Scenic Areas.

Mr Mackay said: “Consultation on the NPF and SPP will influence development plans for the next 30 years affecting every part of Scotland. By providing clear vision, the proposals will be used to guide future development that will help Scotland achieve its renewable energy targets and increase protection for our country’s most environmentally important areas.

“Scotland is enriched by a high quality environment and many special places to live in and visit. These physical assets underpin our economy and our quality of life. That is why we need to ensure developments go in the right place, providing positive benefits for our communities and environment. We want to hear the views of the people of Scotland and will reflect carefully.”

In 2007 Stirling Council commissioned its “Stirling Landscape Sensitivity and Capacity Study for Wind Energy Development” and in 2008 endorsed the findings and adopted the report as a “material consideration” for determining planning applications. It effectively created “exclusion zones” for turbines in much of the area and reflected feelings of many elected members that Stirling had “done its bit” for wind energy.

It is expected, following consultation, the SPP will be finalised by end of 2013, with NPF3 adopted by 2014.