By Gareth Rose
The SNP’s ”ideological obsession” with green eergy has seen the Scottish
Government overturn half the large-scale wind farm plans rejected by councils.
Bids to develop some of Scotland’s biggest wind turbine developments have
been refused by local authorities on 38 occasions since 2010.
But The Scottish Mail on Sunday can reveal that 19 of those were then
approved by government officials, despite local opposition.
Last night, the Scottish Conservatives said the figures were ‘galling’,
while campaigners complained there was not a level playing field.
The approved wind farms, all capable of generating 50 megawatts of energy,
include the 21-turbine Baillie development west of Thurso.
Alastair MacDonald was among campaigners who opposed it because it was
close to housing and would harm tourism. He branded its approval a
‘travesty of local democracy’. Two campaign groups were set up to fight
plans for the Cairn Duhie wind farm, between Nairn and Grantown, in 2017.
The John Muir Trust also objected and almost 2,000 people signed a petition
opposing the plans but the Government still overturned the council’s decision.
A 33-turbine scheme at Muaittheabhal on the Isle of Lewis was approved
despite the John Muir Trust and the RSPB warning it would ‘erode yet
another area of stunning wildness’.
EDF Energy’s Dorenell wind farm, with 59 turbines on the Glenfiddich Estate
in Aberdeenshire, was approved by the Government, despite objections from
the local council and 600 members of the public in September last year.
Afterwards, Forres councillor Claire Feaver said the Government must stop
‘trashing’ Scottish beauty spots, adding: ‘Our beautiful upland landscapes
have been damaged by the ideological obsession with industrial scale turbines.’
Highlands and Islands Tory MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston said: ‘Projects that
have been refused locally have simply gone to Scottish Government Ministers
who have then ignored local objections and signed off these projects.’
Graham Lang, chairman of Scotland Against Spin, said: ‘Refusals are made on
planning grounds by planning officials and experts in assessing the
landscape and visual impact of large industrial structures in the
countryside. These decisions are routinely overturned on appeal by
reporters employed by the Scottish Government.’
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘Ministers take into account the
views of communities and all representations made by members of the public
when considering wind farm proposals.’