Scottish Renewables, a green energy trade association, believes plans to put additional restrictions on where windfarms can be built will undermine the nation’s 2020 green energy objectives.
The new proposals would make it more difficult for wind energy companies to build on ‘wild land’. The latter is defined as areas which are rugged, remote and free from human structures. These include mountains and moorland, undeveloped coast and areas of peat bog.
Ministers are also considering changing the recommended distance between towns and windfarms to 1.6 miles from 1.2 miles.
A strained relationship
Scottish Renewables has expressed concerns that the proposals could threaten £2bn worth of investment in green energy as well as plans to generate the equivalent of all of Scotland’s energy through green initiatives by 2020.
Wind power companies have raised their objections to the proposals in a submission made to a Scottish Government consultation on proposed revisions to key national planning guidelines.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said that all views would be considered, and added that ministers “strongly support” both windfarms and the protection of wild land.
Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “Scotland is renowned for its fantastic landscapes, and clearly there are many parts of the country that are simply not suitable for large scale wind farms or any other form of development. However, these proposals could block wind power in most of the country, with worrying consequences for the industry, for communities and landowners, and for the Scottish economy.
“Clearly there is a need for a strong and robust planning system to manage development, but we believe that any potential impacts of wind farms on wild land and nearby towns and villages should be assessed on a case-by-case basis, not the ‘broad-brush’ approach being proposed by the Government.”