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Calls to scale back windfarms

Scotland is braced for a windfarm explosion with government officials confessing even they have no idea how many turbines now exist in the countryside.

New figures show there could be a 10-fold rise in the number of sites over the next few years as councils struggle to cope under a mountain of planning applications.

There are more than 210 windfarms already operational across Scotland, with at least 2,440 turbines between them.

But data obtained under Freedom of Information show 1,898 applications have either been granted by councillors or are still to be considered by officials.

Among those are plans for 50 giant turbines, each 149.5m, in the South Kyle forest in East Ayrshire, and an offshore windfarm comprising 277 turbines in the Moray Firth.

Campaigners said yesterday the expansion of the wind industry is now “out of control” and called for an immediate halt to construction.

Dr John Constable, director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, said: “The Scottish Government’s apparent failure to monitor the full scale and pace of wind development in detail suggests that this industry is in effect out of control, as local people have been saying for some time.”

Linda Holt, of campaign group Scotland Against Spin, said: “We need an instant moratorium on windfarms and then we should hold an independent investigation into the costs and benefits of turbines.

“All we have at the moment is the sales pitch from operators, but can we take their word for it? It’s time for a sensible energy policy not just windfarm after windfarm.”

Green energy, particularly the growth of onshore and offshore windfarms, has been one of the SNP’s key policies since taking office in 2007.

But wind power is becoming increasingly more unpopular among the public, with giant turbines now scattered across much of the countryside.

Figures obtained under Freedom of Information show Scotland’s 32 councils have only refused 247 applications for windfarms or individual turbines since 2007.

In contrast, a total of 1,629 applications have been granted, and a further 269 have yet to be considered by planning officials.

Among those set for construction is a £200 million proposal to create Scotland’s third largest windfarm, near Aberfeldy in Perthshire, with 68 turbines of 124m.

Controversial plans for a 22-turbine windfarm in what campaigners insist are “idyllic and unspoilt” glens on the PerthAngus border have also been put to Perth and Kinross Council.

Swedish firm Vattenfall has submitted plans for a £190 million windfarm in the South Kyle forest in East Ayrshire, with proposals for 50 turbines and the creation of more than 40 miles of site access roads.

More than 120 turbines are also to be built in the Firth of Forth, off the Dunbar coast, and a further 213 at Inch Cape, near Arbroath.