Wind farm policy aims to protect rural areas

PROPOSALS to protect large parts of wilderness and unspoilt land in Scotland from controversial wind farm developments will be unveiled by government ministers today.
Picture: Ian RutherfordPicture: Ian Rutherford
Picture: Ian Rutherford

The new guidance will include maps, drawn up by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), which will designate approximately 28 per cent of the country’s landscape as “wild land” making it more difficult to secure permission for wind farms.

Areas in the north and west Highlands, as well as parts of Tayside are likely to be among the wind farm-free zones unveiled by local government minister Derek Mackay in Dundee today. However, campaigners and the head of Holyrood’s energy committee have called on ministers to do more to halt the expansion of wind farms.

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Kim Terry of the Communities Against Turbines Scotland, warned that wind farms would still be approved in large numbers outside the protected areas under the new planning regime.

She called for all areas of Scotland to be given the same protection, as she claimed developers would now focus on areas outside the wind farm-free zones.

Mr MacKay is expected to claim today that the shake-up of planning policy will improve the balance between the approval of turbines and protecting areas of beauty and wilderness land.

However, Holyrood energy committee convenor Murdo Fraser said that a “new approach” was needed to ease the pressure on parts of Scotland “under siege” due to the growth of wind farms.

Mr Fraser, a Tory MSP, said: “There is widespread public concern over the proliferation of wind farm developments. Fundamentally, what’s required is a new approach to energy policy that removes the development pressure from rural communities who feel under siege.”