National Trust says wind farms should be halted in remote, wild land

Development of new wind farms in remote, wild areas should be halted, the National Trust for Scotland has said.

The Trust says it recognises the need for renewable energy, but argues this should not come at the expense of wild land.

It is calling for protection of wild land to be strengthened in a new national planning framework to ensure that wild land areas remain intact and largely unspoilt by manmade infrastructure, as well as the presumption against wind farm developments to be extended to these areas of remote wildness.

The Trust also said the Government’s draft Onshore Energy Wind Statement now omits any mention of wild land, in contrast with a previous version from 2017.

The National Trust for Scotland is calling for Scotland’s wild land to be better protected from adverse development to ensure it can continue to benefit the nation and be enjoyed now and in the future.

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Philip Long, chief executive of the National Trust for Scotland, said: “The Trust welcomes the Scottish Government’s attention to the nature and climate emergencies and its previous commitment to protecting wild land, but it is now more imperative than ever that efforts to conserve and protect our wild land are given priority.

“Government policies such as the National Planning Framework 4 and the Onshore Wind Energy Statement should work to support rather than undermine these efforts.

“We recognise the need to develop sources of renewable energy, but these shouldn’t be to the detriment of our natural assets.”

He continued: “The most recent IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report highlighted how important protecting land for nature will be in mitigating the effects of climate change, so the importance of these areas should not be underestimated.

“Wild land areas are where nature and natural processes predominate, and where humans can enjoy the qualities of tranquillity and beauty.

“They are also key for meeting our biodiversity and climate change ambitions.”

The Scottish Government has pledged to protect 30 per cent of Scotland’s land for nature by 2030. With identified wild land areas accounting for close to 20 per cent of Scotland, it is clear the Government has an important role to play in reaching this target.

Last week, the operators of Scotland's biggest offshore windfarm, Seagreen, confirmed the site had started generating electricity.

Standing 16 miles off the Angus coastline, when fully operational, the 114 turbines will generate 1.1 gigawatts (GW) of electricity, enough to power about 1.6 million homes – equivalent to two-thirds of Scotland's housing stock.

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