Wind farm campaign group calls for help from supporters over petition change
Credit: By Alan Hendry - Published: 28 March 2023 - johnogroat-journal.co.uk ~~
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A pressure group that campaigns against large-scale wind farms is calling for help from the public following a change in the way petitions to the Scottish Parliament are managed.
Scotland Against Spin (SAS) lodged a petition in March 2021 seeking stronger powers for communities to influence planning decisions relating to onshore wind. The group has voiced concern over wind farms in Caithness and Sutherland and other parts of the Highlands.
The petition to the Scottish Parliament’s Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee is under consideration by the Scottish Government and a response is expected by April 17.
In a message to supporters, SAS stated: “We need your help, please. Last week, we received news of a change to the process for managing petitions. This includes a facility for all petitions to collect signatures while petitions are under consideration, rather than accepting individual written submissions on them.
“The committee agreed to implement this change at the earliest opportunity and to update the petitions system and guidance to reflect this. It means that all petitions will be open to collect signatures until the committee takes a decision to close a petition.
“Everyone, and that includes our supporters who have already made a written submission to the petition, can now sign it to show their support by just adding their name on the petition web page. We need as many people as possible to do this as quickly as possible.”
Onshore developments above 50 megawatts are determined by the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the Electricity Act. Residents have been left feeling powerless when projects have been given the go-ahead by ministers despite local opposition.
A current example is the planned 19-turbine Golticlay wind farm near Lybster. Highland Council objected in September 2017, saying it would have “a significantly detrimental visual impact on the Caithness landscape”.
A public inquiry was held in October the following year and the application was granted in March 2021, having been dealt with under Section 36.
Now the developer, RWE Renewables UK Onshore Wind, is seeking to increase the maximum blade-tip height of the turbines from 130 to 200 metres.
One objector claimed recently: “There is no democracy in Scotland – it’s a dictatorship. Unless we’re in the central belt, we don’t count, basically.”
Scotland Against Spin wants English-style planning legislation to be adopted north of the border, saying: “In England, planning permission for a wind farm depends on a project being able to demonstrate local support, satisfactorily address any impacts identified by the community and make sure strong environmental protections remain so that valued landscapes are protected.”
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