NORTH MSP Rob Gibson has accused anti-wind-farm campaigners of being selfish in their refusal to accept the long-term benefits of renewable energy to the country as a whole.
And he has denied that the spread of wind turbines is having a damaging effect on tourism in the region.
The SNP MSP for the Caithness, Sutherland and Ross makes his comments in an interview for our Energy North supplement.
“You see lorries on the roads and hear planes in the sky, so you have to realise that we don’t live in a natural landscape,” Mr Gibson says. “The people who are selfishly thinking about their short-term amenity rather than the long-term interests of the country are in a small, if vocal, minority.
“It’s nonsense that windmills affect tourism. If you ask VisitScotland or other organisations that have statistics, they’ll confirm that there’s no reduction in people coming to the Highlands for their holidays. There’s been a slight downturn due to the recession, but wind farms are not a factor.
“The way to get it in perspective is to jack up the amount of community benefit. It’s amazing how people’s views change if there are things which will enhance the place they live.”
Mr Gibson reiterates his view that a “golden triangle” of coastal locations – the Cromarty Firth in the east, Kishorn in the west and Scrabster in the north – will be pivotal to the success of the marine renewables sector in the Highlands.
And he insists that the revised 2020 target of producing the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity demand from renewable sources can be met.
“The First Minister wouldn’t pin his election message on something he didn’t think was achievable,” Mr Gibson says.
See Energy North for the full story. Free in Friday's John O'Groat Journal.