Energy debate

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The Scottish Wild Land Group has long been calling for greater transparency and accountability in relation to energy strategy, our opinion being that only a more informed community of citizens can participate knowledgeably in the debate on this policy called for by Alistair Phillips-Davies, chief executive of SSE, (Cabinet split emerges over green charges “that raise family fuel bills” your report, 
12 October). 

The wind lobby has not shown any willingness to participate in such a debate until now. Will the Scottish Government now be prepared to respond positively? After all, surely in recent years no minister has been faced with a group of citizens so determined not to be ignored as those who oppose – for a variety of social, economic, democratic and environmental reasons – the activities of wind farmers, many of whom are based furth of Scotland and who show a total disregard for our internationally renowned landscapes. 

Two cases recently have demonstrated robust local democracy in action. The first was the success of Christine Metcalfe of Avich and Kilchrenan Community Council (Argyll) in taking a complaint against the UK government and the European Union to the Aarhus Compliance Committee of the United Nations Economic Council for Europe. The committee ruled that each of the aforementioned had failed in their obligations under the Aarhus Convention to inform and consult the people in the development and implementation of their renewable energy programmes. The second case was the recent judicial review petitioned for by Sustainable Shetland, a group of local citizens who oppose the Viking wind farm.

Now it is possible that Lady Clark’s decision, to the effect that since Viking Energy did not have a licence to generate electricity the application to build the wind farm was incompetent, will be overturned on appeal. But the point has been made. No matter the eventual impact on government policies, ministers must surely be taking notice of these two milestone cases in the history of our democracy which are but the tip of the iceberg.

John Milne

Scottish Wild Land Group