Stuart Young is absolutely right in his comments about the weakness of the planning system in dealing with wind turbine applications ("Approval for wind turbines sparks protest at ring of steel", The Herald, September 18).

We are in the midst of a feeding frenzy for international wind speculators and the result is development which is piecemeal, chaotic and needlessly damaging.

I challenge anyone who drives or flies across Scotland to discern a rational central planning policy, or even consistent local planning policies, in the hotchpot of ill-sited, out-of scale turbines which litter our countryside. This is because, in effect, there is none.

Planning guidance for turbines is deliberately very loosely worded so that developers can always find "exceptional" reasons why their turbines can be sited inside the supposed 2km buffer zone around people's homes - or by beauty spots, or on protected landscapes, or on skylines, or on peatbogs, or near important habitats for rare birds or bats, or indeed anywhere else the guidance "recommends" avoiding.

Scottish Natural Heritage and local authorities churn out endless bumf about cumulative impact and spatial planning, but the Scottish Government does not allow either to be categorical about where turbines cannot go under any circumstances. In any case, by the time the guidance comes into force, it is always already out of date.

Because of their size, impact and importance to the economy and security of a country, power stations and their associated infrastructure should be nationally planned, and indeed conventional power stations in the UK - whether nuclear, gas or coal - are. Wind farms, however, are different.

Abandoning central planning, the UK and Scottish Governments handed over the responsibility for the number and location of turbines to private speculators. The UK Government threw huge subsidies at private developers, ensuring they were a licence to print money even if the wind resource was poor. The Scottish Government in turn set the world's most ambitious renewable energy targets and made sure the planning system had its hands tied behind its back when it came to turbine applications.

Despite Scotland already hosting two-thirds of the UK's turbines, our homes and horizons continue to be besieged by insatiable wind speculators from across the world while our electricity bills rise inexorably. When will our politicians put their voters' wellbeing and livelihoods before vainglorious renewable energy targets?

Linda Holt,

Dreel House,




I agree with Stuart Young's comments. However, Caithness covers an area of 1844 sq km, a giant landscape in comparison to minuscule East Renfrewshire's 174 sq km which is home to 230 industrial turbines with another 39 awaiting approval. Not all of the turbines are within the East Renfrewshire boundary, some spilling into another local authority, but they are viewed as one large windfarm by its residents.

No mention is ever made of the huge number of applications for small to medium-sized turbines (which were classed as industrial sized only a few years ago) pouring into our planning departments on an almost daily basis from every greedy landowner in the country desperate to cash in on the feed-in tariff.

These "little 'uns" are fast filling in the few remaining gaps in East Renfrewshire's once beautiful countryside, helping to complete the ring of steel around Glasgow's entire south side.

Aileen Jackson,