A SCOTTISH Tory Euro MP has been accused of insulting victims of sexual abuse after claiming the development of wind farms is akin to the "rape" of Scotland.
Struan Stevenson made the comparison as he addressed a public meeting in support of Communities Against Turbines in Ballantrae, Ayrshire earlier this month.
His speech, which has been published on his website, was entitled The Renewable Rape of Scotland, and began by stating that the dictionary definition of rape is “violation, despoiling or abuse”.
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Stevenson went on to say: “I have chosen this evocative word as the title of my presentation this evening, not as an emotive gesture or cheap jibe against the renewable energy industry, but as an accurate description of the scandal of industrial wind developments in our nation today.
“Wind turbines violate the principle of fairness by transferring vast amounts of money from the poor to the rich.
“They despoil our unique landscape and through noise, the flicker effect and vibration, they abuse the health and welfare of people and animals which have to live near them.”
However, his comments triggered a furious response from politicians, campaigners and representatives from the renewables industry.
SNP MSP Sandra White has lodged a motion on Stevenson’s comments in the Scottish Parliament, stating his use of language is “unacceptable and deeply insulting” to all those who have been sexually assaulted. It also calls on “all decent-minded people” to disassociate themselves from the “disgraceful remarks.”
White said: “I cannot believe that someone would use such insensitive language. To compare the horrific crime of rape with renewable energy is just absolutely outrageous.
“He has based his whole speech around the word rape and the meanings he has perceived this to be, but anyone who has suffered any form of sexual assault, in particular rape, I think would be absolutely horrified and deeply offended by his use of that language.”
Sandy Brindley, national co-ordinator of Rape Crisis Scotland described the choice of words as “unfortunate”.
She said: “Rape is so particularly traumatic and so meaningful in so many ways, that there’s something about using the word in other contexts that diminishes the reality of it, and the impact it has on women’s lives.
“Rape is a powerful word, and it’s powerful for a reason, because of that devastating impact.”
Representatives from the renewables industry called on Stevenson to refrain from using “insensitive and cheap jibes” when discussing Scotland’s energy matters.
Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “If Struan Stevenson thinks creating thousands of jobs, attracting investment and tackling climate change is akin to rape then it shows just how out of touch he is.
“His use of language is an insult to those working in the renewables industry in Scotland and highlights his lack of understanding about why renewable energy is a key player in building a low-carbon economy.”
He added: “As chair of the Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development Intergroup in the European Parliament, I would have thought Mr Stevenson would wish to have a sensible debate about how Scotland can play its part in reducing our carbon emissions and tackling climate change by using clean, renewable energy sources.”
Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: “It’s incredibly insulting for Struan Stevenson to compare clean energy with rape. He shows no understanding of climate change, and a shocking disregard for the victims of sexual violence.”
However Stevenson said he was surprised at the motion which has been lodged by White, saying his remarks appeared to have been “deliberately misinterpreted”.
He said: “It was clear to anyone who attended the meeting and heard my speech on ‘The Renewable Rape of Scotland’ that I was referring to the rampant desecration of the Scottish landscape by wind turbines.
“Perhaps if Ms White had listened to the speech she would have heard me clearly explain that I chose the word ‘rape’ based on its definition in the Chambers Dictionary as meaning violation, despoiling or abuse of a country.
“The only people who should feel insulted by them are those responsible for despoiling our unique landscape and environment with vast, unsightly and inefficient wind farms.
He added: “Perhaps in future Ms White could engage with this serious debate more constructively, rather than trying to bog it down with absurd and irrelevant political correctness. The future of our landscape deserves nothing less.”
He added: “I would think the renewables industry would be insulted by everything I said in my speech.”