An Argyll grandmother who went to the United Nations to challenge the UK government’s windfarm policy has claimed a notable victory.
Representing the tiny Avich and Kilchrenan community council, 69-year-old Christine Metcalfe appeared before the UN’s economic commission for Europe’s compliance committee in Geneva last December. Now the legal tribunal has ruled that the UK Government acted illegally by denying the public decision-making powers when they were drawing up the national renewable energy action plan.
She claimed the UK’s renewables policies have been designed in such a way that they have denied the public the right to be informed about the alleged benefits in reducing CO2 and harmful emissions from wind power, or the negative effects of wind power on health, the environment and the economy.
The new ruling calls into question the legal validity of any further planning consent for all future windfarm developments based on current policy, both onshore and offshore.
The commission has declared that the UK flouted Article 7 of the Aarhus Convention, which requires full and effective public participation on all environmental issues and demands that citizens are given the right to participate in the process.
The committee has also recommended that the UK musst in the future submit all plans and programmes similar in natrue to the national renewable energy action plan to public participation, as required by Article 7.
Mrs Metcalfe and her husband Peter, 74, retired to Argyll from England 22 years ago. They were drawn to Loch Avich, near Taynuilt, because of its outstanding natural beauty and wildlife. They rehabilitate injured swans at their lochside home. She eventually took her case to the UN after becoming increasingly frustrated as she tried to access information about the Carraig Ghael windfarm near her home, which has now been built but is not yet operational.
Mrs Metcalfe described her experience in Geneva as “incredible” and said: “I’m relieved. It was very gratifying to find that such an important point was upheld. The ramifications will become clearer in time. There will be resistance from various quarters.
“No windfarm developer has ever had to explain the benefits of wind. Evidence tells us that wind power performance shows not only no reduction in CO2 and other harmful emissions, but also the very reverse.
“Alex Salmond is driving an aggressive green agenda like an express train across Scotland, bludgeoning anyone who gets in the way as being a Luddite and antigreen.”
Legal experts on both sides of the turbine fence are examining the ruling with some urgency.