THE widow of Scottish climber and broadcaster Tom Weir will head a group of campaigners urging Alex Salmond to stop the spread of wind farms across Scotland during talks with the First Minister today.
Rhona Weir will hand over a 4,500-signature petition in Bute House after joining forces with campaign groups.
The SNP government wants to create a green energy revolution in Scotland and wind farms have been at the heart of the initiative. Mr Salmond has said the country’s vast wind levels could help to generate all its electricity needs by the end of the decade.
But residents of rural areas, such as the Highlands, Galloway and Argyll, insist large areas of natural beauty are being scarred by the massive turbines.
Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser, convener of the Scottish Parliament’s energy committee, said the petition outlines the “fears communities have all over Scotland”.
He added: “People do not want to see their treasured countryside plastered with wind turbines, which aren’t even an efficient producer of energy.
“The SNP has consistently ignored these concerns, and pressed ahead with a damaging and poorly thought-out policy. This meeting with Mrs Weir gives Alex Salmond another chance to realise the very real impact his government’s policy is having across the whole country.”
It emerged earlier this month that the Scottish Government is drawing up plans to protect some of the country’s most remote and beautiful landscapes from development by energy companies. The new guidance will include maps, drawn up by Scottish Natural Heritage, which will designate about 28 per cent of the country’s landscape as wild land and make it more difficult to secure permission for wind farms.
Mrs Weir, 94, will be accompanied by Pat Wells, convener of Stop Highland Windfarms Campaign, which organised a demonstration on the issue at the SNP conference last month in Inverness. The petition includes signatures from 45 countries.
A Scottish Government spokesman said Mr Salmond had written to Mrs Weir inviting her to the meeting. He added: “On the wider issue, we believe wind energy – suitably located, and subject to a planning process which gives the right level of protection to Scotland’s important landscapes – can make a huge contribution to meeting Scotland’s future energy needs.
“We will consult soon on a new draft planning policy. This will allow us to hear a full range of views on how wild land character should be protected by the planning system.”
Tom Weir, best known for his long-running TV series Weir’s Way, died in 2006 aged 91.