Scottish resident furious as they face wind turbines up to 260m

IndyRef2: Sturgeon criticised for windfarm image

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A Scottish petitioner has raised the alarm over the prospect of new onshore wind farm developments in Scotland – and it comes as the Government is U-turning on its 2016 ban on new projects in England too. Amid the urgent need to unlock cheaper energy sources amid a crisis that has seen bills soar, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has caved to pressure from his backbenchers as after pressing him to allow more renewable energy projects. Now, ministers will launch a consultation on whether to allow onshore windfarms to be built if they have the approval of local communities.

Barred under former Primer Minister David Cameron’s Government’s green energy subsidies, rural areas of England have not seen any new developments since 2016. While no new projects have been built in England for years, in Scotland, onshore wind developments have been coming in thick and fast. 

Aileen Jackson, a petitioner for Scotland Against Spin, told that Scottish residents are desperate to stop developers from “ruining our precious landscape” amid the prospect of huge turbines built nearby. 

She added: “Rural residents in Scotland are facing wind turbines of 260m! We are desperate to stop further development from ruining our precious landscape, killing our wildlife and making wind farm neighbours’ lives a misery.

“The only people who support wind farms are those making huge sums of money out of them.  Landowners, owner/operators and communities which have been bribed with community benefit but which are far enough away to get no impact from the development.”

This comes after Business Secretary Grant Shapps said that people “should have the right to choose what is built near them”, hinting that 2016 could be lifted. 

He told ITV: “I’ve always been of the opinion that people should have the right to choose what is built near them, and so I’m looking forward to what the Government comes up with but I hope very much that we’ll stick to our commitment to make sure that we have the capability to build those energy production units that people want to have near them.

“If a community wants onshore wind it’s up to the community to decide, it’s not up to me to decide.”

Up in Scotland, Ms Jackson has been calling for Holyrood to increase the ability of communities to influence planning decisions for onshore windfarms.

Ms Jackson claims that as well as ruining local landscapes, wind turbines do not produce a reliable source of energy. 

She told “The fact remains that it doesn’t matter how many wind turbines they build or what height they are, when the wind doesn’t blow or it blows too hard and they are turned off for safety reasons, they still don’t generate anything.  

“That’s not energy security. It is untrue to say the wind is always blowing somewhere.  You only need to look at the national grid live figures on a daily basis.”

But a vast number of energy experts and renewable firms disagree. They argue that lifting the wind farm ban in England can only be a good thing as wind is the “cheapest and quickest” form of power.

Octopus Energy said: Zoisa North-Bond, CEO of Octopus Energy Group’s generation arm, said: “Onshore wind is one of the cheapest and quickest forms of energy we can generate right here on our soil – and by removing the red tape, we can build it fast for communities that want it. We’re huge fans of onshore wind and so is the overwhelming majority of the British public. Over 16,000 people have asked us for a wind turbine in their community. 

“And through Winder, our digital match-making platform for wind, we’ve already identified 2.3GW of new onshore wind capacity with local support. 

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“By putting this green power in the hands of supportive local communities, we can bring cheap local energy to more people, increasing our energy security and reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels.”

And while some communities in Scotland might oppose new developments, with a recent YouGov survey finding that 9 in 10 people (87 percent) would support an onshore wind turbine in their community if it meant cheaper bills.

Friends of the Earth’s head of policy, Mike Childs, said: “Lifting the ban on onshore wind in England is a no-brainer. It’s cheap, clean, plentiful and popular with the public – and has a key role to play in tackling the cost-of-living and climate crises. Earlier this month Rishi Sunak pledged to make the UK a clean energy superpower. It’s time to start delivering.”

Ministers from the Department of Levelling Up have now launched a consultation to see how councils will “demonstrate local support and respond to views of their communities when considering onshore wind development in England”.

It comes after around 35 rebel MPs signed an amendment to the Levelling Up Bill, due in the Commons next week, from former housing secretary Simon Clarke to allow new onshore wind projects in England.

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