Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Planning Anarchy

The planning anarchy that we're facing in Scotland over windfarms is getting to the point of becoming so serious that unless it's checked a catastrophe is looming. I have a letter in today's Scotsman which illustrates the point.

Anarchy over wind farms
In 2005 a study, commissioned by East Lothian Council and Scottish Natural Heritage, to assess suitable wind farm sites concluded that the "vast majority" of the East Lothian countryside was unsuitable for future schemes. In particular, it raised concerns about the visual impact of a wind farm on the site recently put forward at Aikengall, about six miles south of Dunbar.

Two years on, the planning department recommends against granting the application for a wind farm at Aikengall and the councillors of East Lothian reject their advice. But only because the convenor of the committee, Norman Hampshire, used his casting vote to push through the proposal.

He decided: "This will be good for the Lammermuirs and will be good for the global environment." Quite how this will be good for the Lammermuirs, which is fast becoming the wind farm capital of Scotland, he didn't explain.

If ever we needed some joined up thinking from the Scottish Executive, now is the time. I don't deny we need renewable energy. What we need is leadership from the Executive to prevent planning anarchy from causing the ruination of our countryside.

The fact is that with the coming Scottish elections nothing is going to get done in the short term. The lack of any leadership from the Executive continues to be very worrying, but not unexpected. Like most politicians these days it’s about distancing oneself from the issues to avoid any mud sticking. What is even more worrying is will it be any different with a new parliament?

Organizations like SNH are becoming much more vociferous in the condemnation of many wind farm applications. Strangely VisitScotland remain silent on the matter. They should be ashamed of themselves.


Ian said...

Readers might be interested in our current campaign:



Richard Havers said...

Thanks Ian, I've passed it along to thers who I know will be interested.

woody said...

Visit Scotland were inadvertently responsible for the overturn of a recent WF application in Cumbria. A report made by them in 2001/2 on tourist attitudes to wind farms made things look pretty grim and so the reporter refused permission. In the Borders of Scotland however, it seems that there is no fear of the potential effects on tourism - with thriving economies such as that of Hawick and its environs, the 90,000,000 pounds tourists bring to the Borders is being tossed to the wind. Visit Scotlands new pose is to promote Scotland to tourists as the GREEN country to visit and incidentally the Scottish Executive, afraid of visit Scotlands report mucking up their plans for turbine proliferation have financed their own report which is due to come out in June 2007. This will of course be totally rigged like the last one they commissioned in 2004(?) but will no doubt be expected to please the queue of developers who, some will have noticed, have gone very quiet recently. So we can expect truck-loads of tourists flinging money at us whilst they dance amongst the green totem poles which will no doubt be in all the right places.

Richard Havers said...

Woody, good points you make.

I've had a letter from the head of VisitScotland in which he effectively says it's not really our responsibility.

The problem though is with a Scottish Executive that is incapable of giving any leadership. No one wants to raise a hand against the march of the green lobby for fear of being branded as denier. I totally buy into the fact that global warming is happening, however when you realise that on the 1500s they were growing corn and barley on the tops of hills 1200 ft plus then where's the man-made carbon emissions then?