A grandmother who won a landmark victory against UK wind farm policy has accused the SNP of becoming “almost a dictatorship” in its support of renewable energy.
Christine Metcalfe said the Scottish Government’s drive for green energy was so great that it risked appearing to “interfere” with the democratic process.
The retired community councillor from Argyll spoke out after the United Nations upheld her complaint, sparked by concern over a local wind farm scheme, that government policy in the UK failed to give the public adequate information and rights in deciding on environmental issues.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) ruled the UK government was in breach of Article 7 of the Aarhus Convention, which requires “full and effective” public participation in environmental issues and demands citizens have the right to participate in the process.
The UNECE said that, while Westminster breached the convention, the Scottish Government had not. But Mrs Metcalfe said she believed the ruling applied to the UK as a whole, including Scotland. She said: “The Scottish Government is coming dangerously close to becoming a dictatorship by its actions.
“Councils in Scotland are terribly up against it with the number of wind farm proposals which they have to consider but the decision is [ultimately] taken by a government whose political will may be seen to be interfering with the democratic process.”
She added: “Public inquiry reporters working to centralised diktat have routinely refused to accept local plans which proposed justifiable ‘no go’ areas for wind power developments.
“To satisfy the insatiable appetite under the National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) for more turbines, immense resources are diverted from indisputably necessary investments in health, education and infrastructure.”
And she accused the Forestry Commission Scotland of abandoning its conservation role to become an “agent of the now discredited NREAP” by granting exclusive exploration rights to wind farm developers across hundreds of thousands of hectares of its land nationwide.
The Scotland Against Spin anti-turbine campaign group echoed Ms Metcalfe’s attack on the Scottish Government.
A spokeswoman said: “The SNP leadership has its fingers firmly stuck in its ears – 50,000 plus people have formally objected to wind farms, local authority planners say they have no room for more wind farms, NGOs are making unprecedented complaints about the continued destruction of precious landscapes. Scottish Government ministers ignore them all.”
However, a Forestry Commission Scotland spokesman said: “Developments on the national forest estate will always be carried out in a manner sensitive to the environment and all projects have and will go through the full planning process.”
A UNECE spokesman confirmed that Westminster had been found to flout the convention but added: “[The] Scottish Government was not found to be in non-compliance with the convention.”
A spokesman for energy minister Fergus Ewing said: “The Aarhus Committee have fully backed the Scottish Government’s position in terms of public access to environmental decision-making and environmental information.
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