Written by David McPhee
Grampian and Highlands politicians have hit out at the Scottish Government
after it was revealed more than half of the country’s windfarm applications
are on their patch.
Of the 27 onshore wind application currently sitting with the Scottish
Government, 14 are in the north and north east council areas of Scotland.
But the figures, released in response to a parliamentary question by the
Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston, were welcomed by renewable energy
trade body Scottish Renewables who claimed projects can bring “enormous
economic opportunities” to the region.
Mr Johnston said:“The Highlands and Islands have taken on a large share of
Scotland’s onshore wind projects. These figures suggest that most of
Scotland’s major new projects coming down the pipeline will be within this
“While wind has a place as part of a positive energy mix, onshore wind also
presents challenges for local communities – and should be brought forward
on the basis of engagement and local support.
“So it is unfortunate that the Scottish Government was unable to answer a
straightforward question about its assessment of community benefit related
to windfarms. It would seem that community engagement is not top of their
The Scottish Government’s Energy Consents team are responsible for wind
development applications exceeding 50 megawatts (MW).
Of the 14 in the north and north-east, six sit within the Highland region
alone, with two in Moray, four in Argyll and Bute, the Viking project on
Shetland and the controversial Glendye Windfarm in Aberdeenshire.
In October, opponents of a proposed Glendye project said the plans ignored
local guidelines on large-scale energy developments.
The Banchory-based Glendye Windfarm Opposition Group, which has 40 members,
said the development “ignores” key recommendations from the council’s local
Last night, Aberdeenshire Greens co-convenor Guy Ingerson, another critic
of the Glendye development, said: “You need to ensure you have local people
on board with what is being proposed. The applications that have run into
the most problems are the ones that haven’t done enough consultation.
“Sometimes with the big windfarm companies the money aspect is overriding
the ecological, local democracy aspect of these applications. Communities
should be consulted before applications are even made.”
The John Muir Trust, who only object to a small number of the proposed
windfarms said it was “eagerly awaiting” the decision of the Scottish
Government on projects it believes “will have a detrimental impact on the
Fabrice Leveque, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “Much
of our wind resource is located in the Highlands and Islands: an area which
makes up more than half of Scotland and which contains some of our most
“Onshore wind projects are already delivering a huge range of benefits in
these areas: skilled, well-paid jobs; better roads; improved broadband
speeds. Onshore wind has improved the viability of rural businesses,
providing income from low-grade land and enabling investment and growth.
“Increased investment, in the form of new onshore wind projects, will
ensure these transformative improvements continue to benefit the people of
the Highlands and Islands into the future, and help Scotland meets its
future energy needs from climate friendly sources.”