A NEW map has revealed the full scale of the windfarms explosion across the north and north-east – and led to calls for a moratorium on any more turbine projects.
The Scottish Natural Heritage-produced document shows there are almost 150 schemes either in place, under construction or planned in the Highlands and islands and Grampian.
Campaigners said the number of developments was “shocking and obscene” and urged the SNP government to rethink its policy on onshore wind.
Protesters clashed with delegates outside the SNP conference in Inverness at the weekend, with around 40 campaigners brandishing placards outside the venue.
Some SNP delegates engaged in heated discussions with protesters over the merits of wind energy. They included Caithness, Sutherland and Ross MSP Rob Gibson, who spent 15 minutes talking to the protesters.
The Nationalist administration hopes that all Scotland’s energy will come from renewable energy by 2020.
Huge swaths of countryside remain untouched because of restrictions on planning, but the map shows more clusters of turbines could be created in Aberdeenshire, Caithness and north Sutherland.
The image, which details all the windfarms Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has been consulted about, also shows that several developers want to extend their existing schemes.
Lyndsey Ward, of the Windfarm Action Group, is leading the campaign against the Druim Ba windfarm at Kiltarlity near Inverness.
She said last night: “We find the number of windfarms, regardless of their current status in planning, shocking and obscene.
“The contribution wind is making towards our energy needs is extremely minimal.
“What other heavy industry would ever be permitted on this scale, in rural, unpolluted landscapes, when it has proven to be so inefficient, unreliable, and expensive?
“From almost every hilltop in Scotland one can see a windfarm. On almost any car journey, one can see a windfarm.” They “dominate the landscape” she said.
She added that a major area of contention was guidance given to developers about how far away from houses turbines could be sited.
Nick Orpwood, spokesman for Aberdeenshire-based Concerned About Wind Turbines (CAWT) said he would support a moratorium so guidance for developers could be clarified.
CAWT monitors planning applications involving turbines and has identified around 400 commercial turbines and 450 for domestic and agricultural purposes.
Mr Orpwood said: “My concern is at the loss of amenity to people. I think turbines would be better offshore.”
Pat Wells, convener of the Stop Highland Windfarms Campaign, said: “Not only is the precious wild land in Scotland being destroyed, the proliferation of operational and proposed windfarm developments is now such that rural and semi-rural areas are being degraded.
“It will be impossible to go anywhere in Scotland without seeing wind turbines or hearing the disturbing noise from them.”
She said developers were being “aided and abetted by the Scottish Government’s obsession with the generation of electricity from renewables, mainly wind power”.
She added: “In particular we require a moratorium now on all windfarm developments. This includes those approved, in planning and in scoping. The SNP needs to understand more and more people are aware of the windfarm scam and the additional financial burdens imposed on them through renewables subsidies, especially those paid to developers.” Highland councillor Jim Crawford, an outspoken critic of windfarms, backed the moratorium calls but said: “Unfortunately I don’t think Alex Salmond will listen.”
The Scottish Government said last night that there were limits on where windfarms could be built. A spokesman said: “The Scottish Government will only allow windfarms to be built where the impacts have been found to be acceptable – and unsuitable applications are rejected.
“Scotland has some of the best renewable energy resources in Europe, which is why we have set an ambitious – but achievable – target of the equivalent of all of Scotland’s electricity use coming from renewables by 2020, with as much again generated from other energy technologies.”