The Scottish Government has been accused of sacrificing trees for wind turbines.
A Freedom of Information request from the Scottish Conservatives discovered that millions of trees have been cut down in Scotland to clear the way for windfarm developments since the SNP came to power in 2007.
Although the Scottish Government has said it wants developers to undertake “compensatory replanting” when trees are cleared in this way, the figures provided by the Forestry Commission show this is not happening.
Over the past six years, 2,510 hectares have been destroyed around five million trees while replacements have only been planted on 792 hectares of land.
However, the Scottish Government claims trees have been replanted on most of the land where it is suitable for them to be regrown.
Scottish Conservative energy spokesman Murdo Fraser MSP said: “The SNP is so blindly obsessed with renewable energy that it doesn’t mind destroying another important environmental attribute to make way for it.”
The Scottish Government wants to source all of Scotland’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020 but Mr Fraser said he does not believe pursuit of this target is worth the loss of so many trees.
“The contribution of trees to our environment has been well established through the ages,” he said. “I’m still waiting to see compelling evidence of the contribution windfarms make.”
However, Scottish Government environment and climate change minister Paul Wheelhouse angrily rejected Mr Fraser’s claims.
Mr Wheelhouse said: “With careful planning of the development of windfarms on the National Forest Estate, we have re-planted nearly 800 hectares, and have restored significant areas of important open habitat where this is best for the environment.
“The result is that of the area felled for windfarms, only 315 hectares of land suitable for another rotation of trees has not been re-planted.”