Highlands & Islands

Concerns raised over wind turbines and wild land

The Scottish government has defended its record on wind farm applications in the face of criticism that it was failing to protect wild land areas.

Concerns about the impact of wind projects on Scotland's landscape were aired at Holyrood by MSPs in a debate on Wednesday night.

Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said areas such as blanket peat bog should be protected from development.

Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse said wind farms bids were scrutinised.

Mr Fraser said that given 2013 was the Year of Natural Scotland, protecting fragile environments and endangered wildlife should be a priority.

During the debate, he said: "What is clear is if we are to have renewable energy projects we have to be very careful where we site them.

"Scotland is home to 10% of the world's blanket bog resource. Peat bogs are a natural carbon sink absorbing harmful gases."

Mr Wheelhouse said government agency Scottish Natural Heritage had been mapping wild land and this data would help a review of planning policy.

He added: "As members are aware not all applications for wind farms are consented."

Mr Wheelhouse said only 21% of planning applications for large-scale wind farms considered by government-appoint planning officials in 2012-13 were approved.

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