SNP Government criticised for overturning council wind farm decisions

© PA

The Scottish Government has been accused of a “clear contempt for democracy” after it was revealed it is overturning the majority of windfarm plans rejected by councils.

Almost two thirds of wind farm applications which were vetoed by local authorities were subsequently given the green light when an appeal was submitted to the government.

Two of the approved appeals relate to the University of St Andrews’ plans for six turbines at Kenly Farm, near Boarhills on the outskirts of the town.

A report has this week been submitted to Scottish Ministers on the controversial Strathallan scheme, which involves the creation of nine turbines at Braco.

Green Cat Renewables mounted an appeal after the project was rejected by councillors in April.

The figures were revealed after Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Alexander Stewart submitted a parliamentary written question.

Of 17 decisions of appeals against refusal, the Scottish Government rejected just six. They also granted one appeal on the grounds of a local authority’s failure to reach a decision, and another appeal against conditions imposed.

In total 23 wind farm planning applications were the subject of an appeal between July 2016 and the start of July this year.

© DC Thomson
The Kenley wind farm would help St Andrew’s University to meet its ambitious renewable targets.

The shadow minister for Local Government accused the SNP leadership of an “obsession with wind energy at the expense of other sources”.

Mr Stewart said: “The Minister’s answer to my question shows the Scottish Government’s clear contempt for local democracy; two-thirds of windfarm applications rejected by local authorities who clearly know and respect their own rural environments, have been overturned by the SNP so far this year.

“This is a clear indication of box-ticking by a centralising government which pays lip service by requesting consultations, only to ride rough-shod over councillors when they are standing up for communities in their own areas and refusing these wind farm planning applications; the SNP overrules them with no regard for the rural communities which the councils represent.

“Again, the SNP is clearly demonstrating its obsessiveness with wind energy at the expense of other sources. Communities across Scotland have complained about too many turbines spoiling local scenery.”

He added: “Indeed, Perth and Kinross Council has been inundated and authorities have even asked for moratoriums to be put in place to cope with the influx of planning applications, yet despite claiming to respect local democracy, the SNP has repeatedly overruled decisions made by councillors and planners – displaying clear contempt for local democracy.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Planning reporters consider all relevant information and representations received from members of the local community.

“They are required to determine appeals in accordance with the local development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

“We have clear planning policies in place to ensure wind farms are developed only in appropriate locations. Scottish Planning Policy was strengthened in 2014 to provide additional protection for both our National Parks and National Scenic Areas. Additional scrutiny of proposals affecting wild land areas has also been introduced.”