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Wind farm ‘gravy train’ criticised by Conservatives

The Conservative Party has said councils in Scotland have received more than 2,500 wind farm applications in the past 18 months.

The party’s figures indicate the local authorities facing the greatest workload in dealing with the proposals are Aberdeenshire, Highland and Orkney.

The Conservatives said wind farms have become a “gravy train”.

The Scottish government said it has given councils additional funding to deal with the applications.

The 2,508 applications represented, according to the Conservatives, seven every working day.

Conservative energy spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “Alex Salmond has played to the gallery on this one, but the figures show the rush of wind farm applications remains intense.

“These applications put council planning departments under immense strain, and cause great concern to communities worried about the impact a massive wind farm on their doorstep will have.

“And even if a council does reject an application, there is a good chance the turbine-hungry Scottish government will overturn the ruling in pursuit of its own overly green policies.”

‘Out of control’

Mr Fraser added: “This surge has to stop, and the way to do that is ending ludicrous subsidies for an unreliable and intermittent energy source, and stop inviting companies to develop in areas which are clearly unsuitable.

“We appreciate that wind farms have a place, but the fact there are seven wind farm applications a day in Scotland proves this is a gravy train threatening to career out of control.”

The Scottish government has said its policy represents a “balance” between different interests.

A spokeswoman said: “We recognise that some planning authorities face pressure from the volume of wind turbine applications they receive, and have identified additional funds to assist them.

“Seventeen bids were received for additional funds and earlier this year £725,000 was made available to support all of those bids.

“Our policy on wind farm applications aims to strike an appropriate balance between Scotland’s massive green energy potential and the need to satisfactorily address the impacts on communities and the environment.”