Scottish Renewables has called for a ‘robust and defensible’ way to protect Scotland’s most valued landscapes after launching an attack on the credibility of the Scottish Natural Heritage consultation on these issues.
The issue is a sensitive one of for wind farm developers as many people are concerned about perceived detrimental impact on the visual environment and landscapes from wind-farms.
In its response to a consultation on these issues by Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Renewables, highlighted a number of points of concern including how wild land has been defined and the accuracy of those areas deemed ‘core wild land’.
Josh Blamire, Senior Policy Manager, Scottish Renewables, commented: “We have some major concerns over how SNH will be able to soundly assess areas believed to be wild when they’ve taken a largely desk-based approach?
“How can someone sat in front of a computer capture how wild a specific landscape is hundreds of miles away and then grade it according to such basic criteria? There is no substitute for an on-the-ground assessment on a case-by-case basis.”
He added: “The biggest threat to Scotland’s environment is undoubtedly climate change – with renewables being one of the most effective solutions. But that doesn’t mean we can or should build anywhere, which is why we welcomed the Scottish Government’s proposal to designate National Parks and National Scenic Areas as ‘no go’ zones for large scale wind farm development for the first time.
“However, the difficulty we have lies with the methodology behind the mapping exercise for wild land and its proposed role in planning. There’s a real danger we are starting with something that is both inaccurate and out of date.”
“A more robust and defensible methodology would be to use a wild land map as a tool to help indicate areas in which developments may need to demonstrate that they can exist without harming the potential wildness of the landscape, rather than ruling them out without proper consideration.”
Scottish Natural Heritage did not respond to our request for comment.