The Scottish Government has been accused of ignoring its own experts in determining the development of large-scale windfarms.
Rural and conservation bodies have come together to ask the Government to listen to its own advisors.
The Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, the Munro Society, the National Trust for Scotland, Ramblers Scotland and the Scottish Wild Land Group said that instead of forcing objectors to embark on costly challenges through the courts, the Government should first ensure such planning developments have been exposed to the “proper and democratic scrutiny” their scale and potential impact warrants.
The organisations have written an open letter highlighting concerns over the Government’s approach to assessing planning applications for major windfarms.
They focus on two developments where the Scottish Government has been perceived to disregard submissions made by Scottish Natural Heritage.
These are the marine windfarm projects in the Forth and Tay and the Stronelairg windfarm in the highlands.
They say in the letter: “In both cases the Scottish Government chose to ignore the views of its own expert advisors from Scottish Natural Heritage.
“Their advice made it absolutely clear that the impact from these turbines will be very significant, and that the locations were problematic as a result.”
Terry Levinthal, director of conservation and projects with the National Trust for Scotland, said: “We count on the Scottish Government to have in place a fair and transparent process that ensures proposed developments are properly scrutinised and that important ecological factors are considered fully.”
Scottish Wild Land Group coordinator John Milne added: “Scottish Government decision-making too often ignores expert opinion and prioritises claimed economic gain over the need to protect nature and our environment.”