Nicola Sturgeon said at the National Economic Forum in Inverness on May 12 that communities are “central” to the planning policy of renewable energy …“and we have a planning process that is robust … and allows the views of communities to be heard”. Nothing could be further from the truth. In 2007 the SNP inherited a planning policy which said “broad criteria should be used to set out the considerations that developers should address in relation to local communities. These should ensure that (windfarm) proposals are not permitted if they would have a significant long-term detrimental impact on the amenity of people living nearby.” This positive protection to residential amenity was removed by the publication of Scottish Planning Policy in 2010.
In 2011, Scottish Government Reporters examining Highland Council’s draft Highland Wide Development Plan wrote on page 449 at paragraph 36: “With respect to representations arguing for a veto on wind farm proposals in some circumstances where the local community opposes the scheme, this would be contrary to the planning system as set out in legislation. A council must make its own planning decisions on the basis of policies and reasons; it cannot set aside that responsibility and simply adopt the opinions of a local community.”
So in spite of extensive consultation and invitation for comment, the planning authority must ignore the expressed wish of the community.
Since 2014 Scottish Planning Policy provides for consideration of visual impact within two kilometres of “cities, towns and villages” but also says that “in these areas wind farms may be appropriate in some circumstances”. Scattered settlements all over Scotland are excluded from this negotiable consideration masquerading as a protection to amenity. The wish of the community is not a material consideration in Scottish Planning Policy. The wishes of the community may well be heard but there is no requirement to heed them. The First Minister knows that.
The Larches, Laggan Bridge, Newtonmore.
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