New planning rules to halt the spread of wind farms were yesterday dismissed by campaigners as ‘too little, too late’.
The SNP’s proposals to ban turbines from beauty spots and keep them further away from homes at first appeared to be a long-awaited U-turn from the party.
But community groups say the plans will make little difference, pointing out that the Scottish Government is effectively banning turbines from a mere 18.9 per cent of the country, leaving 81 per cent vulnerable.
Critics also point out plans to keep turbines at least 1.5 miles from towns and villages are only guidelines, which developers are not forced to obey.
If approved, the changes will not come into force until next summer at the earliest and will not be retrospective. This means hundreds of turbines could still be built close to homes, national parks and scenic areas.
The planned changes come too late for the village of Straiton in Ayrshire, which has been targeted by five wind farm developers. Bill Steven, chairman of campaign group Save Straiton for Scotland, said: ‘These plans are a start, but they are too little, too late – they are long overdue.
‘I am disappointed by the speed of change and would like to know why is all of this a year away. Why can’t we make things happen faster?
‘We believe the Scottish Government should go a lot further. The rules over keeping turbines 2.5km (1.5miles) away from homes should not be guidance, they should be laid down as part of the planning process.’
Linda Holt, of campaign group Scotland Against Spin, said: ‘Any extra discouragement to turbinise the 18.9 per cent of the wildest or most scenic land just ups the pressure on the remaining 81.1 per cent of Scotland.
‘This is where the vast majority of people live and where there are plenty of cherished natural landscapes.’
The policy was laid out in the third National Planning Framework and draft Scottish Planning Policy (SPP).
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: ‘Many individuals and organisations have taken the opportunity to respond to the consultation and ministers will carefully take into account all views raised when finalising the SPP.’
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