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UK's wind farm policy in doubt after grandmother's UN victory

A SCOTTISH grandmother has won a United Nations victory over the UK Government.

Christine Metcalfe, from Argyll, appeared before the UN to argue that the British Government had failed to fully inform the public about the negative effects of wind farms.

Mrs Metcalfe, who travelled to the UN in Geneva last December, discovered this week she had scored a notable victory in her fight against wind farms.

And although the 69-year-old's victory was over the UK government's policies, she used the ­occasion to accuse Alex Salmond of "bludgeoning" anyone who opposed the SNP's renewables agenda.

Mrs Metcalfe, who lives near Taynuilt with her husband Peter, took the case, on behalf of the Avich-Kilchrenan Community Council, to the UN's Economic Commission for Europe's compliance committee after becoming increasingly frustrated when trying to access information about a wind farm near her home.

The UN committee ruled the UK Government had acted illegally by denying the public the right to be fully informed when drawing up the national renewable energy action plan.

The community councillor claimed the UK's renewables policies had been drawn up in such a way that it denied the public the right to vital information.

She claimed this prevented people from learning of the negative effects that wind power can have on health, the environment and the economy.

The Carraig Gheal wind farm near Mrs Metcalfe's home has 20 turbines which stand at up to 75 yards tall and have a blade diameter of up to 120 yards.

Mrs Metcalfe had claimed the farm was located in an area of great beauty and was also a nesting site for golden eagles.

Speaking after her victory, Mrs Metcalfe launched a scathing attack on the wind farm policy adopted by Scotland's First Minister.

She said: "Alex Salmond is ­driving an aggressive green agenda like an express train across Scotland, bludgeoning anyone who gets in the way as being a Luddite and anti-green."

Mrs Metcalfe added she was relieved the UN had ruled in her favour. She said: "It was very ­gratifying to find that such an important point was upheld. The ramifications will become clearer in time. There will be resistance from various quarters.

"No wind farm developer has ever had to explain the benefits of wind. Evidence tells us that wind power performance shows not only no reduction in CO2 and other harmful emissions, but the very reverse."

Previously she had said: "I'm not a crusader. I'm not a campaigner, but an ordinary person who is fighting for grass-roots democracy. I just want the information to help me understand where this is taking us."

The UN ruling has now called into question the legal validity of any further planning for all future wind farm developments based on current government policy.

The committee also declared that the UK has ignored Article 7 of the Aarhus Convention, which demands that the public are given the right to participate in the processing of environmental issues.

It was also recommended that in future the UK must submit all plans and programmes which are similar to that of the renewable energy action plan to public participation.

A Scottish Government ­spokesman said: "Scotland has astounding green energy potential and vast natural resources and there is strong public support for developing cleaner energy which harnesses Scotland's abundant natural resources, creates jobs, helps tackle climate change and reduces our domestic energy dependence on imported fossil fuels that have driven up customers utility bills.

"The Scottish Government has taken a consultative approach when considering wind farm applications and a similar approach to our Renewables Routemap overall. We are also committed to applying strict environment assessment procedures."

He added: "We are pleased, therefore, that the Aarhus Committee has endorsed the Scottish Government's position in terms of public access to environmental decision-making and environmental information.

"The Compliance Committee, having considered questions around public participation in the development of our renewables policy and handling of the Carraig Gheal wind farm consent application, as well as access to and dissemination of information in considering did not find the Scottish Government in breach of the Aarhus Convention."

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