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Overwhelmed councils in call for halt to wind turbine plans

CALLS have been made for a halt to the growing number of wind-farm developments in one of Scotland's most picturesque areas.

A coalition of 50 community councils in Dumfries and Galloway have written to First Minister Alex Salmond and the local authority to ask for a moratorium on any further planning approval for new wind farm, saying that they have been "overwhelmed" by the number already built.

The councils have called for extra time and resources to be devoted to assess the benefits of the large number of wind farms currently working their way through the planning system and a full study of their cumulative effects on the area.

A map collated by the group from data produced by Scottish Natural Heritage shows that Southern Scotland has more wind farms currently operating or in development than any other region in Scotland.

They have warned the growing number of turbines already operating or at the planning stage could have a profound impact on the landscape and wildlife, and have raised concerns about the impact on tourism.

Willie Dickson, chair of Corsock and Kirkpatrick-Durham Community Council said: "We felt overwhelmed by the number of wind farm proposals being planned for our area.

"When we consulted other community councils across Dumfries and Galloway, it became clear that many others felt the same. We need impartial, accurate information on the pros and cons of the proposed wind farm developments.

"We need sufficient time and resources to consult the communities we serve and represent. The land use changes being proposed for the region are likely to have profound impacts for the next 25 years. These need to be properly and democratically considered."

As well as a moratorium on planning applications, the coalition called for an up-to-date map of all operational, consented and proposed wind farms across to be produced and made available to the public, and a minimum mandatory compensation figure to be paid to communities which 'host' wind farms within their boundaries.

Caroline Pridham, a spokeswoman for the coalition, said the letter represented the concerns of 80% of the community councils in Dumfries and Galloway who had been contacted to give their views on wind farm development.

She said: "There are more than 1000 turbines within 20 miles of this community, and this is a problem. We're not against wind farms, but the pace that these have been built is too fast for the area.

"The people on the community councils have full time jobs or run farms or have family commitments, so we are trying to respond to all the proposals in our spare time and there are too many,

"We also want impartial information, because we are not getting that from Dumfries and Galloway Council or the Scottish Government.

"The only people sending flyers through the doors or holding information evenings are the wind farm companies - and we need to hear the other side of the story."

A spokesman for Dumfries and Galloway Council said: "We will consider the issue but we are aware that the Scottish Government has rejected previous similar requests."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The planning process has a key role to play in ensuring all types of development are balanced with the needs of communities and quality of the environment, and community councils are consulted on development plans and on major development proposals at the pre-application stage.

"Any moratorium on determining wind turbine applications would be an unprecedented step in Scottish planning practice, and would simply lead to a build-up of cases to be determined once the moratorium had been lifted. Previous calls for moratoria in Moray and in Fife have been rejected on this basis."

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Local government

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222014