New planning policies proposed by the Scottish Government could jeopardise progress towards green energy and climate change targets and rule out wind power throughout “most of the country”.
The comment from Scottish Renewables comes as the Government closed its consultation on a revised National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy yesterday.
They include restrictions on wind farm applications in national parks and national scenic areas, with Ministers proposing to extend the distance between 2.5km of cities, towns and villages.
The industry body claims the proposals could put a halt to 1.4GW of onshore wind projects – equivalent to the annual power demand of 700,000 homes – and threaten £2 billion worth of future investment and job opportunities.
Niall Stuart, Chief Executive at Scottish Renewables said: “Scotland is renowned for its fantastic landscapes and clearly there are many parts of the country that are simply not suitable for large scale wind farms or any other form of development. However, these proposals could block wind power in most of the country, with worrying consequences for the industry, for communities and landowners and for the Scottish economy.
“Onshore wind is the fastest growing part of the renewable energy sector and has almost single-handedly accounted for the doubling in output from Scotland’s renewable electricity sector in the last few years. These changes would inevitably slow down development and jeopardise progress towards our renewable energy and climate change targets.”
The Scottish Government, however, said it “strongly supports” renewable energy generation, including onshore wind while at the same time is working to protect the communities and “most environmentally important areas” in the country.
A spokesperson added: “The consultation on the third National Planning Framework recognises the continuing growth of the renewables sector as a key opportunity for Scotland and the draft Scottish Planning Policy has explored the role of planning in guiding wind energy development to appropriate locations.
“Many people and organisations have taken the opportunity to respond to these consultations. Ministers will carefully consider all views and opinions raised.”
A survey earlier this year suggested people in Scotland by far prefer renewables to nuclear or shale gas.