A Scottish government planning official has been praised by opponents of wind farms for rejecting a scheme on the grounds that ministers have almost hit their green energy targets.
Michael Cunliffe, a reporter at the Scottish government’s Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals, tossed out plans for the eight-turbine Barrel Law wind farm in the Scottish Borders, suggesting it was superfluous to requirements. He observed that against a target to generate about 16 gigawatts (GW) of energy from renewables by 2020, 6.8GW is operational, 6.5GW is under construction or consented and proposals for 7.2GW are in planning.
The move has delighted residents in the Borders who are fighting the expansion of onshore wind farms.
“We are pleased with the reporter’s decision as Scottish Borders are already overburdened with wind turbines,” said Jack Ponton, vice-chairman of the Borders Network of Conservation Groups.
“This is the first time that a reporter has so explicitly referred to the pending attainment of targets.”
In rejecting the Barrel law proposal, Cunliffe cited concerns it would interfere with military radar and detract from the natural beauty of the landscape around Hawick. However, he also made it clear that the vast number of wind farms in the pipeline had influenced his decision. He accepted that some wind farm proposals might be rejected or not be completed by 2020, but concluded that “the rate of progress and the availability of alternatives suggest that the weight that should be given to Barrel Law’s contribution is not as great as it would have been with a larger shortfall against the target, or a lack of other schemes”.
His remarks are unlikely to sit well with Scottish ministers whose economic case for independence rests heavily on exporting vast amounts of energy to other parts of Britain.
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