SCOTLAND gains over £7 billion of economic benefit from the much-criticised development of onshore wind farms, according to new figures released by the industry body.

Almost £250 million of the total goes directly into local communities as a result of the turbines erected in their area, the figures from RenewableUK show.

They follow claims wind farm development in Scotland is out of control after official figures published this week showed that there are 2,622 wind turbines already installed in Scotland, more than double the number in England.

Another 2,669 are either in the planning process, are already consented or are now under construction.

RenewableUK said that Scotland is the leading country for onshore wind in the UK with just over 4,918 megawatts installed. This can power 200,000 more households than the 2.4 million recorded by the 2011 census north of the border.

Maria McCaffery, chief executive of RenewableUK, said: "This report also shows that onshore wind really does bring benefits to the UK - with £7 in every £10 spent on projects invested in the UK.

"Onshore wind powers local economies, bringing £199m of investment into local areas where communities host wind farms, and creating jobs across the supply chain.

"The industry is helping to propel Britain to a brighter, cleaner future - onshore wind is already the lowest cost of all low carbon options, with potential to be the least cost form of electricity within the next five years."

The three largest areas for onshore wind in Scotland are the Highlands with 824MW installed, South Lanarkshire with 632MW installed, and the Scottish Borders with 564.59MW installed.

The figures form part of a report, undertaken by BiGGAR Economics for RenewableUK, which argues that the economic benefits of developing onshore wind are strongly felt across the UK, generating a total £906m in gross value added (GVA) revenue to the UK economy in 2014 alone.

Since the beginning of 2012, GVA has risen by £358m (up 65 per cent), revealing the increasing contribution that the onshore wind industry and its supply chain makes to the UK economy, the industry says.

Ms McCaffery said: "Yet onshore wind farms are under threat from misguided Tory and Ukip policies aimed at stifling their development, despite being the rational economic choice and having consistently high levels of public support."

But Murdo Fraser, Scottish Conservative energy spokesman, said: "Well we have had a Conservative-led government for the last five years and Renewable UK's figures show that we haven't held back the industry back.

"Wind energy has a part to play in Scotland's power mix, but it is expensive and we must remember the impact on customers' bills."