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Call for ban on building wind farms near homes

Developers should be banned from building wind farms too close to residential areas, the Scottish Conservatives will warn today – as it emerged some £165 million has been invested in offshore projects.

WIND AT WORK: Conservatives claim the SNP Government's green energy policy is over-ambitious and is spoiling Scotland's scenery in the process. Picture: Marc Turner
WIND AT WORK: Conservatives claim the SNP Government's green energy policy is over-ambitious and is spoiling Scotland's scenery in the process. Picture: Marc Turner

The party will call for a 2km (1.24 miles) exclusion zone around homes so Scots do not have to live "under the shadow" of wind turbines.

In a major policy announcement due to take place at the Falkirk Wheel visitor attraction, the party warns too many communities are being blighted by nearby wind farms.

But the proposals would not affect small turbines on top of homes of the kind famously used by Prime Minister David Cameron. Nor could single houses claim the protection, as it would only apply to groups of homes.

The Scottish Tories say the limit is already included in planning guidelines which, it says, are too often ignored. No law changes would be necessary for the 2km limit, but ministers would need to make it clear to planning authorities the guidelines should be implemented.

The Conservatives will also warn the number of wind turbines across the countryside is set to more than double to 5000. They say the increase is in part to help meet the SNP's green energy targets, but warns these could be overshot by as much as 34%.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said: "It is not fair that anyone should have to live in the shadow of a turbine.

"The SNP may think it's acceptable to plaster the countryside with wind farms, spoiling the scenery in the process, but the least it could do is offer some kind of quality control on the policy." She added the Scottish Government was "already miles ahead of its own targets, which were already far too ambitious and unnecessary". But the proposed limit provoked criticism from the industry body, Scottish Renewables.

Jenny Hogan, director of policy, said: "While there are guidelines on the distance between properties and wind turbines, there will be instances where turbines sited less than 2km away are acceptable, and turbines more than 2km deemed unacceptable."

Scottish Renewables also released figures to show developers have invested £164.5m in offshore wind farms. The results were obtained from a survey of its members, which also reveal £65m was invested in 2012.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said the sector was still in its infancy but had great potential.

Linda Holt, from the Scotland Against Spin campaign group, said: "At long last a major political party is prepared to say Scottish wind policy is out of control and that the people and the environment need proper protection against turbines."

Meanwhile, the Coalition will today urge those suffering high energy bills to take part in their flagship Green Deal – which allows people to pay for energy-efficient home improvements with the savings on their bills.

l The SNP has said that last week's energy agreement between the UK and Ireland proves the pro-Union parties are "scaremongering" on the issue.

Ireland has agreed to sell wind energy to Britain, in a move the SNP said showed what could be achieved when independent countries work together.

Pro-Union parties have suggested independence would mean Scots lost out on sharing the costs of investing in renewables with the rest of the UK.

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