ANTI-windfarm campaigners are to stage a protest demonstration at the SNP’s spring conference to press home its ‘David and Goliath struggle’ on the ‘proliferation’ of developments.
Stop Highland Windfarms has organised the march this weekend in association with Scotland Against Spin, a countrywide alliance fighting windfarms.
Convener Pat Wells said: “Across Scotland, the David and Goliath struggle continues and intensifies against multi-national developers and wealthy landowners who care nothing for Scotland’s people or its unique natural heritage.
“Their sole purpose is to swell their bank accounts, often located in overseas tax havens, with as much money as possible, regardless of the consequences.
“Scotland’s energy policy is shambolic and the planning policy for wind farm development far from democratic.
“Decisions made by locally elected representatives on behalf of their communities are routinely disregarded by SNP ministers.
“Over 80% of wind farm applications submitted for the government’s final determination have been approved in the full knowledge that more wind farms mean higher electricity bills for domestic consumers and industry.
“Despite Alex Salmond’s pledge in 2005 to eradicate fuel poverty in Scotland by 2016, it is increasing at an alarming rate, with more than 40% of households now in the fuel poverty category.”
The protest groups claim wind farm developments were also affecting tourism despite minister Fergus Ewing’s assertion that “tourism and renewables can thrive together”.
Mrs Wells added: “Tourism is one of the mainstays of the Highland economy. The majority of people come to enjoy the unique scenery and its wildlife.
“Last week VisitScotland announced that leisure tourism is worth £650m a year to the Highlands and provides 14% of workforce employment.
“However, the views of tourists are disregarded at the industry’s peril, as indicated by a petition started in America by regular visitors to Scotland who are dismayed at the reckless industrialisation of our landscape with wind turbines.”
The petition has over 4,000 signatures from over 40 countries around the world.
It has been produced as a bound copy and its originator, Harley Keisch, has written to Alex Salmond, asking him to receive it at the SNP conference on Saturday.
Mrs Wells said: “We look forward to welcoming people from across Scotland on Saturday. I hope there will be a really good turn-out from the Highlands.”
Meanwhile, the Scots public continue to overwhelmingly back renewables, such as wind and solar, over coal or nuclear as their preferred source of electricity, according to a new opinion poll.
WWF Scotland Director, Lang Banks said: “These results confirm that the vast majority of Scots prefer renewables and want to see even more of our energy come from wind, solar and waves.
“It’s fantastic to have public backing for renewables which, alongside increased energy efficiency, will help Scotland reduce climate emissions, create jobs and protect householders from the volatile price rises of global markets.”