Scotland’s anti wind-farm campaign group scales down activities after UK Govt. axes onshore subsidies

scotland-against-spin-logoScotland Against Spin – the anti wind-farm campaign group – has announced it is to scale down its activities in large part due to the UK decision to axe subsidies for onshore turbine parcs.

The group’s campaign for a greater role in community groups during wind farm planning applications also received support in the recently-concluded report by MPs on the Commons Scottish Select Affairs Committee.

A spokesman for Scotland Against Spin said: “The early closure of the Renewable Obligation Certificate scheme and the exclusion of on shore wind from the Contracts for Difference Auction has reduced the previous tsunami of new applications in many areas to a trickle.

“Since we started four years ago, the political landscape has changed beyond recognition, with further onshore wind development off the agenda for the UK Government and Brexit releasing the UK from further onerous climate change obligations.

“But the Scottish Government will be issuing a new draft Scottish energy policy in January for ‘consultation’. Further onshore wind development will be a priority and there is clear ambition to raise tip heights supported by environmental impact assessments to 150 metres.

“This will be a challenge to many existing development plans. Since the bulk of this depends on subsidy and spending on new infrastructure, which can only come from Westminster, much of this will remain aspirational.

“Of course, the wind industry will continue to lobby for subsidies and laxer planning rules. And more and larger turbines will go up in the next decade but these will be largely confined to schemes which don’t require new subsidy in order to be viable – ie. where existing wind farms can be repowered or extended, or where schemes are so big they don’t need the promise of subsidies to raise finance.

“Nevertheless every turbine increases the adverse impacts of wind farms on residents and communities, the environment and the economy, with the Scottish Government and its agencies ever-reluctant to recognise the problems, while admitting privately to them.

“We have been very disappointed that the summit for communities which (Scottish First Minister) Nicola Sturgeon publicly promised and which Fergus Ewing (former Scottish Energy Minister) dodged has not come to fruition, particularly because we were led to believe that Mr Ewing’s successor Paul Wheelhouse was happy to do an hour-long public Q&A.

“In the end this was downgraded to a private meeting for 10 individuals, and attendance at the entire day-long pre-consultation event the Q&A was supposed to be part of was drastically limited. It was also to be a day shared with advocacy for Community developments which we could not accept.

“Realistically, we don’t believe the Scottish Government will amend significantly its policy commitment to onshore wind however great the protest or strong the arguments. The reason is political: championing onshore wind is a cheap and easy way for the SNP (and some other parties) to make itself look green, radical and distinctive.

“Crucially, it can heap the blame on Westminster when the wind farms it wants are denied subsidy, or when Scotland’s energy mix has become so unbalanced that we suffer black-outs.

“However, SAS will not only maintain a watching brief on the developers and politicians, we will keep talking to the Scottish Government.”

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