We mentioned a few days ago that the SAS petition to the Scottish Parliament will be discussed for the third time at the next meeting of the Committee on 15 June and will be streamed live. The Planning Minister, Tom Arthur has been invited to attend to answer questions from the Committee. Further details on that will follow nearer the time. SAS was asked if we wished to make a final written submission before the meeting but only if there was any new evidence of which the Committee had not been previously made aware of and which must be relevant to the Petition. Our response is posted below:

Adopting English planning legislation for the determination of onshore wind farm developments

We would like to draw the Committee’s attention to the UK Government Energy Strategy which was published last month in response to rising energy costs in the UK.

No change was made to planning laws for onshore wind farm development in England other than “consulting on developing partnerships with a limited number of supportive communities towards onshore wind farms in return for lower energy bills”.

This means that Communities south of the border will continue to be reassured that any proposed development will only be successful if it is in an area identified as suitable in a local development plan AND the planning impact identified by the local community has been satisfactorily addressed and there is community support.

This system offers protection for both people and the environment.  The Planning Authority may object to a proposed development due to non compliance with the local development plan while at the same time the community could be supportive due to the financial rewards on offer (incidentally community benefit is not a material planning consideration but it does influence public opinion and generates support).  In such a case, quite rightly, permission is refused as it does not satisfy both requirements.

Equally if the Planning Authority has no objection but members of the community raise concerns for which no adequate mitigation is possible, then permission will also be denied.

This “double protection” directs development to “the right places” and also inspires greater confidence in the planning process; something which is sadly lacking in Scotland in relation to wind farm development at the present time.

Whilst this is all good news for local communities in England who will continue to have a greater influence on the future of development in their local area, (something which the Scottish Government states they also wish to deliver), it means that Scottish communities will continue to be overwhelmed with planning applications for onshore wind farms unless we are granted the same ability to influence planning decisions as our neighbours in England.

Empowering local authorities to ensure local communities are given sufficient professional help to engage in the planning process

As previously mentioned in the Petition Summary and in many of the accompanying  written submissions, local residents and community council are facing multiple applications simultaneously or consecutively.  They are left simply overwhelmed and unable to manage, either in terms of the manpower required to scrutinise large technical documents and/or to fundraise in order to employ professional help. In turn, this leaves them particularly disadvantaged in a Public Inquiry situation.

To emphasis our point we have attached maps, relating to Sue Hall’s petition submission of 8 June 2021, showing the extent of wind farm development both operational and in the planning process in the Southern Uplands of Dumfries and Galloway https://scotlandagainstspin.org/2022/06/map-of-wind-farms-in-the-southern-uplands-of-dumfries-and-galloway/   and also a map of development in the new Cumnock area of East Ayrshire relating to Jerry Mulder’s petition submission of 4 June 2021.  https://scotlandagainstspin.org/2021/09/updated-map-of-new-cumnock/

It is unacceptable and unrealistic to expect members of the public, many of whom are still working full time, have young families or are attempting to enjoy retirement, to give up all of their valuable spare time for many years, sometimes decades, to respond to wind farm applications, to the point of exhaustion, in order to defend their environment, health and wellbeing.

Appointing an independent advocate to ensure that local participants are not bullied and intimidated during public inquiries

We were pleasantly surprised when the Reporter at the Mochrum Fell Wind Farm Hearing last month, asked participants to “Be kind, courteous and polite to each other”.  A well received comment in recognition of the aggressive questioning of community representatives which has previously taken place at some oral proceedings.   Participants at this particular Hearing were able to afford the services of an advocate but most are not so fortunate.

It is imperative that an independent advocate is appointed for all participants taking part in oral proceedings to ensure that they are not bullied and intimidated and that their voices are heard, otherwise it becomes a one-sided process which acts as a barrier to effective public engagement in the planning process; the opposite result to that which the Scottish Government is seeking to achieve.   We have made simple suggestions as to how this request could be taken forward  and financed at no extra cost to the public purse in Petitioner’s Submission of 11 June 2021 https://www.parliament.scot/chamber-and-committees/committees/current-and-previous-committees/session-6-citizen-participation-and-public-petitions-committee/correspondence/2021/pe1864_ii-petitioner-submission-of-11-june-2021



Aileen Jackson


On behalf of Scotland Against Spin






SAS Volunteer

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