MSP calls for communities to have greater say in wind farm applications

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Speaking in a debate on green energy yesterday (Thursday) in the Scottish Parliament, Mary Scanlon, Scottish Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands highlighted the significant amount of investment in Scottish wind farms which goes abroad and the difficulties communities face in being heard during planning applications for wind farms.

Commenting after the debate Mary said: “There is undoubtedly a need to harness and expand renewable energy but the SNP government’s proposal for 100% of our energy to be delivered from renewable sources by 2020 is a serious concern in local communities who fear every application, no matter the suitability, will be granted to help meet this target.

“The issue about individuals and communities opportunities to highlight concerns about applications has been raised with me several times and I took the opportunity to highlight the difficulties people face.

“It is surely the worst form of consultation when developers can take as much time as they like to write Environmental Statements (a recent example was 2,100 pages), yet local people only have 28 days to read it, digest the information and respond. During this time they clearly need to view the document but if they can’t get to their local authority office they might have to buy a copy costing in the region of £850.

“We also have to consider how beneficial the construction of wind farms are for our local communities when at the present time around 70% of the money for wind farms goes abroad for the manufacturer of turbines and towers.

“This means for an average £50m wind farm, approximately £35m will go abroad. It’s also the case that the employment they bring to a local community is limited. During construction there may be several jobs, but once completed a large wind farm can be run by two or three staff with technicians called in for maintenance, they are certainly not the answer to stimulating the jobs economy.”