Rural groups attack Scottish government wind farm policy

Wind farm Image copyright Getty Images

A group of land and heritage bodies has joined forces to attack the Scottish government's wind farm policy.

The rural alliance, including the National Trust for Scotland and Ramblers Scotland, accused ministers of ignoring their own advisers to back controversial large-scale developments.

They said the government had failed to ensure plans are open to "proper and democratic scrutiny".

The group called for public inquiries over the use of wild areas.

In an open letter, the alliance said the government approved "colossal" developments at Stonelairg in the Monadhliath Mountains and offshore - straddling the firths of Forth and Tay - "in the face of evidence and objections".

In both cases, it said ministers chose to ignore advice from Scottish Natural Heritage - the government's own expert advisers.

The statement is signed by the leaders of the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, the Munro Society, the National Trust for Scotland, Ramblers Scotland and the Scottish Wild Land Group.

Fair assessment

It said: "Few people dispute the necessity of first reducing our energy use, and then substituting the use of fossil fuels with renewable energy alternatives, to help address the challenge of climate change. However, as we have seen, there is public disquiet about proliferation of energy developments in Scotland's wild land areas.

"It is vital that any decisions on the location of these developments rely on the fair and impartial assessment of all pertinent information and points of view.

"The people of Scotland depend on their government to ensure this happens. Unfortunately, we do not believe that the Scottish government is doing this in a consistent manner with wind farm developments."

The statement added: "We therefore call on the Scottish government to commit to taking cognisance of its own advisers. Rather than force objectors to challenge these decisions in the courts at great expense, the Scottish government should first ensure they have been exposed to the proper and democratic scrutiny that their scale and potential impact warrants."

A Scottish government spokesman said its policy aimed to strike a balance between Scotland's "massive green energy potential and the need to protect some of the country's most scenic and wild areas".

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