Published: 27/06/2012 11:00 - Updated: 27/06/2012 11:39

Caithness risks being 'flooded' with wind farms

Written byWill Clark

windASKING councils across Scotland to identify areas that are suitable for wind-farm development is being blasted as an open invitation to cover Caithness in turbines.

Caithness Windfarm Information Forum chairman Stuart Young said the far north could be flooded with medium-size wind farms following a move by the Scottish Government.

His views come after energy minister Fergus Ewing wrote to all 32 local authorities in Scotland to designate areas for future turbine schemes.

As a result, protestors fear the county could be one of the worst areas affected and become inundated with new applications.

Mr Young said the situation is becoming a serious one and it was time that the Scottish Government listened to the public’s views regarding the issue.

"The Scottish Government are forgetting that they work for the people and what they are doing is self serving and serving the wind industry which it has in its pocket," he said.

"It’s not just a problem in Caithness as it is doing a huge amount of damage right across the country but this letter will encourage more applications in the far north."

Mr Young continued: "In the draft consultation of the Highland Council Local Development Plan, Caithness was considered a special area and while they were quite firm in ruling out particular sites for wind farms, they actually left the rest of

the county as being suitable for development.

"This is very worrying and with Fergus Ewing trying to push the development of wind farms forward it is turning into a very serious situation.

The Scottish Government have set a target of meeting the country’s entire energy needs through the use of renewable energy by 2020, stating that onshore wind developments would play a vital role in achieving that aim.

Councils have been told to create spatial frameworks for wind turbines that would provide wind-farm companies with a list of sites across the country to target for preferred development.

It said that the SNP would provide around £300,000 of funding to help under-pressure council planning departments cope with the predicted increase in applications.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said it is not unreasonable to expect councils to have a plan which gives direction on the appropriate siting of wind farms.

"Many planning authorities have already prepared spatial frameworks which help to direct wind farm developments to the areas best able to accommodate them, reducing the potential for adverse impacts," she said.

"The Scottish Government wants to see the right developments in the right places."

Scottish planning policy sets out the framework for the development of wind farms and onshore energy and is supported by online advice on managing the impact on communities, landscape, and the natural environment.

"Planning authorities, and where appropriate the Scottish Government, will only allow renewables developments to be built where the impacts have been found to be acceptable."

The Scottish Government refused its first onshore wind farm application in four years earlier this month when it rejected plans to build a 30 wind turbine farm at Spittal Hill on the grounds that its impact on the occupants of nearby properties would be too high.

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