Nicola Sturgeon’s government has been urged to resist demands for a rapid expansion of wind farms in a planning shake-up.
SNP ministers are consulting over proposals that could see more onshore wind farms built while increasing the power of existing facilities.
Operators are now demanding ministers go further amid the energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
But campaigners say large swathes of the country are already saturated with turbines and warned against “wrecking the countryside”.
The row flared after Ms Sturgeon was criticised for rejecting calls to support increased oil and gas production in the North Sea.
The Scottish Daily Express previously revealed how the Scottish Government is routinely “riding roughshod” over councils with nearly half of building permit appeals allowed.
Under a national planning framework unveiled in November, proposals for renewable energy, including increasing the power of existing wind farms, will be supported by planners.
It also said proposals for new wind farms “should be supported unless the impacts identified are unacceptable.”
But SSE Renewables has now told ministers it wants “a clear presumption in favour of renewable energy development,” The Times reported.
In a letter to SNP Planning Minister Tom Arthur Finlay McCutcheon, the director of Onshore Europe with SSE, claimed that onshore wind farms “can be built relatively quickly and at low cost, generating much of the energy the system needs”.
Iain Milligan, spokesman for the Save Our Hills group, said: “It’s no surprise to see onshore wind farm developers leap on this opportunity to try and build even more wind farms.
“They stand to make eye-watering profits as a result.
“But the Scottish Government should be careful what it wishes for here.
“Many rural communities are already at saturation point with onshore wind farm developments which have wrecked the landscape and provided next to no local benefits.
“Notwithstanding the severe visual impact on what is unique and valuable countryside, there are far too many other shortcomings with this form of renewable energy.
“The Scottish Government should resist using the energy crisis and the war in Ukraine as an excuse for wealthy and commonly foreign-owned companies to use turbines to profit on the back of our countryside.”
Scottish Tory net zero, energy, and transport Liam Kerr said: “The onus is on the SNP-Green Government to step up their game on renewables. But Scotland requires a combination of both renewables and oil and gas to satisfy our energy needs.
“New North Sea oil and gas production is the fastest way to meet those needs, keep bills lower, reduce our dependency on foreign imports and safeguard skilled Scottish jobs.
“Communities will be worried at the SNP-Greens’ plan to accelerate onshore windfarms, when people have often felt railroaded into them with little consideration of how they could impact local landscapes.
“The priority for the SNP-Greens should be securing Scotland’s energy supply and protecting the livelihoods of Scottish workers by taking the common-sense approach of backing North Sea oil and gas.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The draft National Planning Framework 4 includes green policies which support renewable energy development other than in National Parks and National Scenic Areas.
“Any individual proposals would still need to include a sensitive assessment of the impact on nearby residents and the local community.”
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