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Windfarm planning laws in spotlight

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By Fiona Reid
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Windfarm planning laws in spotlight

LOCAL communities should be given the final veto for onshore windfarm developments in their region.

That’s the call from Finlay Carson, MSP for Galloway and West Dumfries, who has revealed that the Scottish Government gave permission for five schemes in one day.

He warned that some local authorities – including Dumfries and Galloway – were being swamped by planning applications for wind turbines.

However in many cases, councils are often unable to meet the necessary time restraints – resulting in the developers appealing to the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Conservative and Unionist MSP supported a petition at Holyrood by Scotland Against Spin calling for local communities to be given a stronger voice.

The campaign group wants the laws to be similar to England where local people are given greater say about onshore windfarms.

In a written response to the public petitions committee, Mr Carson said: “I fear that ambitious climate change targets will result in more onshore windfarm applications being granted by default through the appeal process to Scottish Government, despite rejection by local authorities who have listened to local communities who have raised concerns relating to cumulative effect, power line infrastructure, and environmental and biodiversity damage.”

He added: “Not only is change required to allow for professional assistance to be offered to communities to assist them to engage with the planning process, financial assistance should be given to local authorities to enable them to determine applications within the allotted timescale and assist with costs of ongoing monitoring conditions.

“The Scottish Government need to give proper consideration to community concerns and cumulative development when considering appeals and repowering applications. In one day alone, during December 2021, the Scottish Government consented to five windfarms in Scotland – surely this is not the way forward?”

His call comes in the wake of the Mochrum Fell development where hundreds of local people objected to the proposals only to be ignored. It is now going to a hearing next month.

Mr Carson has also revealed that in 2019, four in ten planning decisions appealed to ministers had their original council decision overturned.

He said: “That means hundreds of developments going ahead on the instruction of an SNP Government in Edinburgh against the wishes of communities and local representatives across the country.

“We need to amend planning laws, so that the Scottish Government cannot overturn a local planning decision.”

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