Local rights and opinions are little by little being eroded by the Scottish Government. Despite purporting to be championing “community empowerment”, they are, by stealth, actively removing what little we have.
With regard to large industrial wind developments over 50MW (Section 36 Applications determined by ministers), like the 67 turbine controversial Stronelairg, the Scottish Government has adopted a change of procedure for notifying the public of Further Environmental Information (FEI) . They are now saying this will be advertised only once. If any new information comes along, the public will need to search for it on frequently less than perfect council websites. Many S36 applications are in the Highlands – the land of the snail-paced broadband where opening or downloading large and complicated files is nigh-on impossible. Even if we manage to eventually get access, will the councils have uploaded this information quickly or correctly? Is there a further deadline if new information is made available and how will the public know? Is this a ruse to prevent the local people being able to have sight of what they need in order to make an objection in a timely manner?
There is already serious doubt that Scotland is compliant with EU directives regarding access to justice. This access to FEI, which effectively denies the public a proper part in the planning process, may not be compliant with Access to Information. Where was the public consultation on this matter? Has COSLA agreed to it? Has the new policy been incorporated into a planning circular?
Has the Scottish Government leapfrogged public opinion in order to impose something that yet again favours the wind developer over the local people?