A FREEDOM of Information request has revealed thousands of acres of trees have been torn down to make way for windfarms.
Local MSP John Lamont learned from Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) 2,510 hectares (more than 6,200 acres) of trees have been felled to make space for turbines since 2007.
Mr Lamont said: “These figures show that the damage was worse than we first thought.
“One of the main reasons behind the development of wind energy was to protect our environment, but these figures show they (SNP Government) are doing more harm than good. We have seen many of the beautiful landscapes in our region scarred by these turbines, having an adverse effect on our environment and our tourism industry.
“They (SNP Government) need to wake up to reality and see the irreparable damage they are doing to our environment and our region before it is too late.”
FCS estimates that 2,000 trees are planted per hectare meaning more than five million trees have been cut down to make way for windfarms.
And, according to FCS figures, only 792 hectares (nearly 1,960 acres) have been replanted within the windfarm sites. A further 1,403 hectares (3467 acres) have been left open for ‘environmental management’.
Environment minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP said: “It was the Scottish Government that took a proactive role in protecting forests – in 2009 we tightened up the guidance around felling from windfarm developments. A key component is to keep any felling to a minimum and compensatory planting undertaken where suitable. Every energy company building windfarms has to comply with this policy.
“All renewable developments are subject to environmental scrutiny through the planning process and this manages any impacts on the natural environment, landscape and communities.”
“Only 315 hectares of land suitable for another rotation of trees has not been replanted. And to put it in context, in the same six year period, FCS supported over 31,400 hectares of new planting – that’s a staggering 62 million trees in the ground across Scotland.”