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Ministers urged to protect countryside and oppose windfarms

The Scottish Government has been urged to draw up a national planning policy to protect the "precious" countryside from "inappropriate" windfarms.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCoS) issued the plea after a local authority rejected three applications for turbines to be installed in its area.

David Gibson, chief officer for the MCoS, hit out at First Minister Alex Salmond's "seeming willingness to allow power companies to industrialise our landscapes by building vast windfarms in highly inappropriate settings".

He also insisted it was "completely wrong that companies can waste public time and money by putting forward grossly unsuitable applications of this kind".

Mr Gibson said: "We are not opposed to renewables - we simply recognise that our wild lands and open spaces are fundamental to Scotland's character and identity."

He said Highland Council had rejected three "dreadful windfarm applications" at Dalnessie, Glenmorie and Clach Liath in the last few days.

The MCoS chief officer added: "It is time the Scottish Government started listening and changed its direction."

Mr Gibson said his organisation had repeatedly urged the SNP administration to act on the issue but claimed "it misses every opportunity and simply appears weak in its failure to care for the Scottish countryside" .

He stated: "There are real concerns that planning departments, with limited resources, are being seriously overstretched by inappropriate windfarm applications by large energy companies which are happy to industrialise Scotland's mountains for the sake of their own profits.

"Scotland needs a national renewables spatial planning policy to decide what can be built where.

"This would stop unsuitable, speculative planning applications and protect our precious countryside while allowing green energy schemes to be developed in suitable places."

Conservative Murdo Fraser, convener of the Scottish Parliament's Energy Committee, said: "It's absolutely essential the Scottish Government introduces a series of measures to stop this influx of planning applications from energy firms."

The Tory MSP suggested: "A year-long moratorium would be a good place to start, which would enable councils to take stock of where they are."

Mr Fraser also said the Conservatives wanted no on-shore windfarms to be built within two kilometres of housing, and for the subsidies for such developments to be cut before being ended altogether,

"The SNP's obsession with turbines has gone too far," he said.

"Alex Salmond needs to listen to organisations like the Mountaineering Council of Scotland when it comes to issues like this.

"That's the least he could do after he's spent the last seven years ignoring communities, planning officials and councillors."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "We provide clear guidance to local authorities and developers on the location of wind turbine developments to ensure that developments only go ahead in the right places.

"We are currently reviewing Scottish Planning Policy and we plan to launch a consultation in spring 2013.

"Scotland has huge clean green energy resources and many communities in Scotland now benefit from the renewable energy resources in their area."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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