Campaign group claims Dumfries and Galloway Council doesn’t have enough staff to deal with windfarm applications
A campaign group claims the council doesn’t have enough staff to deal with windfarm applications.
The Save Our Hills organisation, which has opposed a number of proposed developments in the Glenkens, claims there is a “weakness” in the country’s planning system.
A Freedom of Information request has revealed that since 2019, 11 planning applications in Dumfries and Galloway have been appealed to the Scottish Government because the council failed to make a decision within the required timeframe.
On five occasions permission was granted and just once was it rejected. Three cases remain live, while one appeal was lodged too early and another was withdrawn.
Save Our Hills spokesman Iain Milligan, right, said: “These numbers expose a weakness at the heart of Scotland’s planning system when it comes to onshore windfarms.
“Enormous resources are needed for a council to address a windfarm application and those are resources that councils in the sparsely populated areas chosen by developers do not have. There is a grotesque inequality of arms.
“Developers can deluge a local authority with applications then simply wait patiently for four months knowing there’s a good chance they won’t be processed in the time required.
“That then leaves a simple path straight to Edinburgh where they know Scottish Government ministers will look favourably upon their submission, irrespective of local protest.”
Earlier this month, consent was granted for nine turbines at Margree near Dalry following an appeal to Holyrood.
The council didn’t make a decision within the required timeframe and then submitted no response to the appeal.
Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson said: “Given the strong local opposition to the development I find it absolutely shocking the council failed to even respond to the appeal process and submit its views.
“It is quite clear that the council does not have enough staff numbers in place to handle the growing number of windfarm applications.
“The local authority has known for some time now of the increased demand for windfarm developments but failed to act swiftly and increase its staff accordingly.”
A council spokesman said steps were being taken to address a lack of resources in the department.
He added: “We have a considerable number of major windfarms submitted and under consideration currently but only a limited number of staff available to process them.
“Most developers recognise this and enter into what is known as a processing agreement with us, which sets out the responsibilities on both parties together with a realistic timescale for a decision, accepting that the complexities of these developments will often require more than the four month period allowed in planning legislation for these types of application.
“It is appropriate to consider windfarm applications sequentially because there can be cumulative visual impacts as they are layered against each other.”
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