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1,400 wind turbine plans submitted

The Scottish Government has been accused of attaching too great a priority to wind energy as new figures show almost 1,400 applications to install turbines have been made in 18 months.

Councils have received 185 applications for developments with a minimum of three turbines, according to figures obtained by the Conservatives under freedom of information laws.

There were a total of 1,363 planning applications to erect wind turbines over the last year-and-a-half, the statistics show – including 157 bids in Fife, 151 in Aberdeenshire and 149 in West Lothian.

But there were no applications made to either Glasgow City Council or Edinburgh City Council, while both Dundee and West Dunbartonshire only received one each.

Scottish Conservative energy spokesman Murdo Fraser said the figures show “t he stream of wind farm applications to Scotland’s rural councils shows no sign of easing”.

The Tory MSP claimed: ” The SNP’s ludicrous targets and constant rhetoric on wind energy has given these companies the green light to submit application after application.

“It puts a massive strain on council planning departments, which in turn causes anxiety to those in communities whose surroundings would be severely impaired.”

Mr Fraser said onshore wind farms have a place in a ” balanced energy approach” but added that SNP ministers had “placed far too much emphasis on them”.

He said: ” Wind farms are intermittent, unreliable and expensive – for the SNP to be so utterly dependent on them is naive and potentially damaging.”

But a spokesman for Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: ” These claims from the Scottish Tories are sheer hypocrisy.

“Onshore wind is a vital part of the energy mix in Scotland which represents one of the most deliverable renewable energy technologies at a nationally significant scale – for the first time we have seen electricity generated from renewables in Scotland accounting for the same as fossil fuels which is a vital contribution to our energy security.

“The National Grid have confirmed that onshore wind’s intermittency can be accommodated on the grid.

“This energy mix can also help lower energy bills. Recent analysis by DECC (the Department of Energy and Climate Change) shows that an average household energy bill will be an estimated £92, or 7%, lower in 2020 than it otherwise would have been due to the impact of energy and climate change policies.”

Mr Ewing’s spokesman said: ” We remain strongly committed to releasing Scotland’s onshore wind energy potential, however we have always made clear that we want the right developments in the right places and we have taken steps to ensure that no wind farm developments can go ahead in our cherished National Parks and National Scenic Areas.”