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10,000 object to wind farms in five years

ALMOST 10,000 people have lodged objections with ministers about wind-farm developments during the past five years.

New figures reveal a total of 9868 protests about the green energy projects with turbines that produce more than 50 megawatts of electricity were received by the Scottish Government.

These developments go to Holyrood because they are deemed too large for local authorities to pass judgment on.

The figures emerged following a parliamentary question by Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser. It found some individual applications received in excess of 2000 objections.

Since 2008, only 4051 letters of support were received about the major wind-farm applications.

Mr Fraser, convener of the Scottish Parliament's Energy Committee, said: "Given the sheer number of objections received, the SNP should be left in no doubt about how Scotland's communities feel about wind farms.

"And this is the thin end of the wedge, because these are people who have been so irked by the treat of looming wind turbines, they have taken the time to formally contact the Scottish Government to protest. This figure does not include the thousands more who find turbines unsightly and unnecessary."

Around 83% of applications to the Scottish Government to build wind farms have been approved, and more are in the pipeline.

Mr Fraser added: "The SNP's wind energy obsession has to be curbed, otherwise every vista in Scotland will be at-risk from an invasion of great, white turbines. That will have a negative impact on tourism and the everyday enjoyment rural communities get from their surroundings."

However, those who support wind-farm development and investment in the green energy sector said it was right the Scottish Government sought people's views when planning decisions were due to be made.

Jenny Hogan, director of policy for Scottish Renewables, pointed out that far more people objected to one proposed coal-fired plant in Ayrshire than the number of those who objected to wind farms in half-a-decade.

Ms Hogan said: "How Scotland meets its future energy needs is a vital debate for us to have and one that brings many different viewpoints; for example, last year's proposals for the coal-fired power station at Hunterston attracted more than 22,000 objections.

"Surveys have consistently shown strong support for wind farms, with a YouGov poll last year finding more than 70% of Scots support the continued development of onshore wind as part of our energy mix.

"We would also argue that having more than 4000 letters of support for major wind-farm developments is a strong indication of where many people want their electricity to come from."

The SNP's policy on increasing the number of wind farms has proven controversial, with some arguing the giant turbines are a blot on the landscape. Chief among the opponents to the growing number of developments is American billionaire Donald Trump, who has fiercely criticised plans to build an 11-turbine development near his Menie Estate golf resort in Aberdeenshire.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Scotland has open, inclusive and transparent planning processes which give the right protection to our magnificent landscapes, and which takes the views of local communities into account."

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