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Powering to green targets

SCOTLAND is surging ahead with its renewable energy target and is on track meet Government pledges to produce 100% of its electricity from green sources by 2020, it is claimed.

The announcement follows a bumper year for wind, wave and tidal electrical power in 2011, which has been surpassed in the first nine months of this year.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said the country "smashed" its target of achieving 31% of electricity from renewables in 2011 with an output of 36.3%, and is "well on track" to reach its 100% target in 2020.

But anti-windfarm campaigners claim the target is "unachievable" and efforts to get there will destroy Scotland's natural beauty and tourism industry.

There are already 152 on-shore wind farms north of the border, with more than 1800 wind turbines now operational. As the country moves towards its 100% target, planning applications for around 1800 more turbines have been lodged with local authorities, with a further 124 projects receiving approval.

Mr Ewing said: "These figures show that renewable energy in Scotland is going from strength to strength, confirming that 2011 was a record year for generation in Scotland and that 2012 looks set to be even better.

"We have smashed our interim renewable electricity target of 31%, and are well on track to meet our 2015 target of 50%, and our 2020 100% target. The Scottish Government is giving industry the certainty it needs to invest in Scotland."

Earlier figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) revealed that £721 million was spent on onshore wind developments in 2011/12 – more than three times the investment in England.

The Scottish economy retained around £350m of nearly £1.2bn invested in on-shore wind from April 2010 to April 2012.

Mr Ewing said more than £1billion had been invested in renewables in Scotland this year alone. He added: "The list of recent companies investing – or planning to invest – in Scotland's renewable energy future shows that Scotland is increasingly the destination of choice for renewable energy investment."

But anti-windfarm campaigner Lyndsey Ward claimed that if the Scottish Government pushes ahead with its target, the country might not be so popular with tourists.

She said: "I run a B&B and people have asked about the windfarms and said they won't come back if Scotland is littered with giant turbines.

"How many more thousands of windfarms will have to be approved in the Government's desperate aim to reach this target, which simply isn't achievable?"

Susan Crosthwaite, anti-windfarm campaigner and former chairwoman of Communities Against Turbines Scotland, said investors were being duped into spending on renewable projects.

An Edinburgh University study found that onshore wind farms, instead of lasting 25 years without a drop in input, actually last 10 to 12 years.

Ms Crosthwaite said: "All this money is being spend on a form of energy production that doesn't work."

She also claimed the Scottish Government had forged ahead with its green energy agenda without regard for people living close to developments.

Labour's shadow energy spokeswoman Rhoda Grant MSP welcomed the new figures.

She added: "However there are concerns that the referendum and transmission issues could hold back development."

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