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£1.5m spent on Scottish schools’ wind turbines

Scottish schools are hosting 68 wind turbines across more than two-thirds of councils, erected with £1.5 million of taxpayers’ money.

Local authorities have only built turbines at schools during the last few years, but a fifth have already been decommissioned.

The Scottish Government has backed the expansion of wind farms as part of its flagship policy of increasing the use of renewable energy for Scotland’s power supply.

Schools are increasingly being used as sites for turbines, with taxpayers footing the bill for the maintenance of the schemes as well as the building costs.

The government has said schools can benefit from a “financial return” if they allow wind farms on their land.

However, critics of the schemes have argued they show the SNP’s obsession with promoting renewable energy regardless of the cost and environmental consequences.

Only six of the 68 developments were paid for by the private sector, at a cost of £267,000, with the other £1.44 million coming from public funds.

Highland Council has the most schools participating in the latest green energy drive, with 16 schools involved in the roll-out of wind farms at a cost of £432,000. Inverclyde Council spent £207,500 on five turbines, while also attracting £80,000 of private funding. In Orkney, there are nine schools with turbines, while Fife and Midlothian have seven each, according to the figures obtained under freedom of information.

Liz Smith, Scottish Conservatives education spokeswoman, said: “Everyone knows that the SNP’s relentless drive for wind turbines has gone too far, and now we learn that even schools aren’t spared from this obsession.

“Worse still, it turns out that one-fifth of the turbines which have been erected on school premises in recent years have already been decommissioned, placing an additional burden upon the taxpayer as well as upon hard-pressed councils.”

However, the government defended its wind farm policy and insisted that the grounds of schools could be “appropriate” locations. A spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government supports onshore wind energy in appropriate locations.

“While financial return is available to local authorities wishing to install turbines within the school estate, councils and schools must make decisions on whether to install based on consultation with parents, pupils, staff and communities.”

A spokesman for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) insisted the use of wind farms had delivered benefits to the taxpayer, saying: “Resources made available to councils via energy market obligations over a number of years have meant, in some cases, wind turbines playing a significant role in offsetting rising energy costs.”