Today’s release by the Scottish Government of a blueprint to streamline the scoping, planning and consenting of offshore renewables developments is yet more bad news for Scotland’s coastal communities and businesses, Scottish Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson has said.
The report, prepared by a task force comprising government agencies and renewable developers, sets out a number of recommendations to speed up the whole-sale development of off-shore wind farms.
Although it recommends that, "Developers and regulators should use a mandatory multilateral pre-application consultation process at the earliest opportunity communities and businesses should be consulted early ahead of developments", the report offers nothing to reassure these groups that their views will be listened to by planners.
Speaking from Brussels, Struan Stevenson MEP said:
"Today’s release of a developers’ blueprint for fast-tracking off-shore windfarms spells further trouble for Scotland’s beleaguered coastal communities and businesses. It simply shows that the government is prepared to pay lip-service to the wishes of local people objecting to marine wind farms, while encouraging the renewables industry to make a killing in the shortest time possible.
"By all means, the renewables industry should be consulting early with communities before planning wind farms, but in doing so they need to listen to what ordinary people have to say. All too often in the past we have seen that the legitimate concerns of local stakeholders are simply ignored by planners at the local authority and Scottish Government levels, especially when decisions are called in by the latter.
"The Scottish Government needs to stop and take stock of its ludicrous wind renewables strategy, not accelerate delivery of a process that is seeing our world-renowned seascapes transformed into vast, rusting electricity factories that destroy tourism, fisheries and marine habitats, while driving Scottish households relentlessly into fuel poverty."