Earlier this year, the Scottish Government effectively designated land in Scotland as either being ‘wild’ or not. This gave clarity to developers, including community developers, as to what developments were likely to be consented in particular areas of Scotland.
Objections are now being made to planning applications for onshore wind developments on the basis that they happen to be in the vicinity of land designated as wild in the map produced by Scottish Natural Heritage earlier this year.
Not content with the designation of ‘wild’land as being out of bounds to most developments, some pressure groups are now propounding the notion that developable land in Caithness and in the Great Glen which is not designated as ‘wild’ but which is close to the areas with the ‘wild’ descriptor should not be developed.
Communities must retain some autonomy when it comes to developing their own renewable energy assets. Externally imposed designations may have been agreed at national level, but now attempts are made to expand these sterile ‘wild’ land zones and deny communities the opportunity to develop their local assets.
This retrograde step was foreseen in the public responses to the consultation on the ‘wild land’ map which saw many local community organisations and estates warning of economic and social implications of making these wild land zones ‘no-go’ areas for any type of sustainable development.
Steven Watson of Community Energy Scotland said:
“A feature of the wild land map consultation was many anonymous responses backing the idea, whist communities with a real interest which submitted open and named responses saw their detailed arguments diluted by an arbitrary head-count of comments rather than a serious consideration of the issues.”
“Creeping sterilisation and withering of rural communities is a real threat.
“Pressure groups advocating fewer renewable energy installations do not seem to understand that moving to renewable energy generation will protect or climate from change, reduce species loss and avoid the environmental destruction that fossil fuel extraction would otherwise cause elsewhere in the world.
“We can’t let the local benefit of a community-owned hydro scheme or wind turbine is be out-gunned by a leisure lobby which is more concerned about the view from a distant hill than the future of our rural communities and the planet we all share.”
Response to the Scottish Government announcement in June is at renewables
Response to the consultation is at wild land
Community Energy Scotland’s information on responses from other parties is at respondents