Regions like the Borders will not be allowed to ban more wind farms even if local planners felt such areas had reached “saturation point”.
SNP ministers have taken the decision to prevent any local councils from declaring temporary moratoriums on the construction of more wind farms, even where the National Grid would struggle to accept the electricity generated.
New guidelines have been welcomed which forbid turbines on land designated as national parks or national scenic areas, but also state local authorities cannot impose bans on the building of more onshore wind farms, despite some planning departments warning they have reached “saturation point”.
Although Scottish Borders Council has never sought a moratorium and instead relies on robust planning policies, it recently produced a new development plan which highlights the cumulative landscape impact of the growing legions of turbines.
And SBC leader David Parker recently wrote to Scottish energy and tourism minister, Fergus Ewing, flagging up the council’s concern over the sustainability of the Scottish Government’s energy targets and their impact on the Borders landscape.
This all prompted 10 wind farm companies to register objections to SBC’s request that the government be cautious with further wind farm developments.
But an SBC spokesperson said the council has supported wind energy proposals where they can be accommodated by the wider environment.
“Equally, the council has taken a clear position where it views a proposal to have unacceptable impact,” said the spokesperson.
Professor Jack Ponton, of the Lauderdale Preservation Group, is also a member of the Scientific Alliance Scotland executive committee, which says only a further 200MW of wind capacity is needed to reach the government’s target of 12,600MW, and with scoping consents granted for 2,700MW offshore, there is no need for more.
“No economic case was ever made by the Scottish government for the original target, and so, except in the unlikely case that it can be shown that benefits to Scotland from renewable generation exceed the costs to consumers and the local environment, there can be no justification for going beyond it,” he said.