UN victory grandmother attacks Alex Salmond over wind farms
Credit: By Simon Johnson, Scottish Political Editor | The Telegraph | 30 August 2013 | www.telegraph.co.uk ~~
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A Scottish grandmother who this week won a landmark victory at the United Nations that could slow the spread of wind farms has delivered an outspoken attack on Alex Salmond.
Christine Metcalfe, from Argyll, accused the First Minister of attempting to “bludgeon” local opposition to turbines and driving a pro-wind farm agenda like an “express train”.
The 69-year-old said she was “relieved” a UN committee ruled in her favour this week that the UK Government acted illegally by denying the public decision-making powers over the approval of wind farms.
The United Nations Economic Commission Europe declared that the UK flouted Article 7 of the Aarhus Convention, which states that citizens must be allowed to fully participate in environmental issues.
It also criticised the UK’s failure to give people the “necessary information” about the benefits or negative impacts of turbines in a ruling that could call into question the legal validity of future wind farms unless Government policy is changed.
Although energy policy is reserved to Westminster, Mr Salmond has introduced planning policies in Scotland that encourage the rapid spread of wind farms to meet his ambitious renewable energy targets.
Mrs Metcalfe took her case to the UN in Geneva, Switzerland after committee after becoming increasingly frustrated when trying to access information about a wind farm built near her Taynuilt home.
The community councillor argued that the UK’s renewables policies had been drawn up in such a way that it denied the public the right to be informed.
She claimed this prevented people from learning of the negative effects that wind power can have on health, the environment and the economy.
Speaking about her victory, Mrs Metcalfe said: “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 anti-green.”
“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 wind farm developer has ever had to explain the benefits of wind. Evidence tells us that wind power performance shows not only no reduction in carbon dioxide and other harmful emissions, but also the very reverse.”
The Carraig Gheal wind farm near Mrs Metcalfe’s home has 20 turbines, which stand at up to 262ft tall (80m) and have blades with a diameter of up to 410ft (125m).
Mr Salmond has set a target of generating the equivalent of all Scotland’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020, with the vast majority of the increase expected to come from onshore wind farms.
The Daily Telegraph disclosed earlier this year how Scottish Government officials have written to local authority planning departments across the country ordering them to set aside more land for wind farms.
Despite expert warnings otherwise, Renewables UK, which represents wind farm companies, said the UN ruling would not affect existing developments.
A Scottish Government spokesman said the committee had backed its “consultative approach when considering wind farm applications” and it was “committed to applying strict environment assessment procedures.”
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