WIND TUR­BINES DOU­BLE IN A YEAR

Shock­ing new fig­ures re­veal fe­ro­cious pace of in­stal­la­tion, with nearly 5,000 of the gi­ant struc­tures set to blight our coun­try­side

Scottish Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Alan Simp­son Scot­tish Busi­ness Edi­tor

The num­ber of wind tur­bines in Scot­land has dou­bled over the past year, with nearly 5,000 set to be scat­tered across the coun­try. New fig­ures show 4,519 tur­bines have been ap­proved, built or are un­der con­struc­tion, de­spite green en­ergy tar­gets al­ready be­ing met.

This is up from 2,315 tur­bines the pre­vi­ous year – and hun­dreds more are at the plan­ning stage.

Scot­land now has more wind tur­bines than the rest of the UK put to­gether, with the High­lands soon to have a greater num­ber than Eng­land.

Last night, crit­ics de­manded an ur­gent halt to their ‘out of con­trol’ pro­lif­er­a­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from Re­new­ables UK, the wind farm com­pa­nies’ trade body, Scot­land is bear­ing the brunt of new devel­op­ment. While con­struc­tion in the rest of the UK has slowed, 27 large- scale wind farms were built north of the Bor­der last year – with 31 more planned for 2015.

But ac­cord­ing to coun­cil plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions, the scale of devel­op­ment is even higher. There are 2,068 tur­bines planned or un­der con­struc­tion in the High­lands, with more than 500 around Loch Ness. Dum­fries and Gal­loway has 1,315, while Aberdeen­shire has more than 800.

The SNP has set a tar­get of gen­er­at­ing the equiv­a­lent of all our elec­tric­ity from re­new­able sources by 2020, with the ma­jor­ity ex­pected to come from on­shore wind.

But the coun­try is al­ready on course to

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ex­ceed green en­ergy tar­gets. Ac­cord­ing to the Sci­en­tific Al­liance, which cam­paigns against wind farms, out­put from ex­ist­ing de­vel­op­ments a nd pl a nned schemes given ap­proval al­ready stood at 99 per cent of the tar­get more than a year ago.

As a re­sult, cam­paign­ers are call­ing for a mora­to­rium on all new wind farm ap­pli­ca­tions.

Linda Holt of Scot­land Against Spin said: ‘Wind farm devel­op­ment in Scot­land is out of con­trol.

‘The last thing Scot­tish min­is­ters want to know is how many tur­bines have been im­posed on the coun­try. If they did, they would have to tell the Scot­tish peo­ple and they couldn’t blame West­min­ster as plan­ning is fully de­volved.

‘They would also have to stop dodg­ing key pol­icy ques­tions like how many tur­bines do we need, how many can we af­ford and how many can our land­scape and com­mu­ni­ties take.

‘In other words, they would have to do the j ob of gov­ern­ment. In­stead, they have lain down in front of the in­ter­na­tional wind in­dus­try and al­lowed spec­u­la­tors to be­siege and blight com­mu­ni­ties and land­scapes across Scot­land.’

Scot­tish Tory en­ergy spokesman Murdo Fraser said: ‘Wind en­ergy has a part to play in the power mix, but the SNP’s sin­gle-minded ob­ses­sion with on­shore wind is blan­ket­ing our coun­try­side with tur­bines pro­duc­ing in­ef­fi­cient, intermittent and ex­pen­sive en­ergy.

‘There are al­ready enough tur­bines ei­ther con­structed or in the pipe­line to meet the 100 per cent tar­get f or 2020. Com­mu­ni­ties across Scot­land, al­ready feel­ing un­der siege from wind com­pa­nies, will ask why we need to keep build­ing more and more.

‘What Scot­land needs is a bal­anced en­ergy pol­icy. With ma­jor power sta­tions at Lon­gan­net, Hun­ter­ston and Tor­ness all set to close in the next eight years, and with the SNP propos­ing noth­ing to re­place them, we are fac­ing an en­ergy gap which intermittent wind power can­not fill.

‘Even with all th­ese tur­bines, we will be left hav­ing to im­port power from Eng­land to keep the lights on.’

Wind farm op­er­a­tors are be­ing paid £1mil­lion a week to switch the tur­bines off dur­ing pe­ri­ods of over-sup­ply.

The lat­est in­dus­try fig­ures, from the Re­new­able En­ergy Foun­da­tion, show £53.1mil­lion was handed out to green en­ergy com­pa­nies over the past 12 months for shut­ting down tur­bines. The money is paid by con­sumers through a sub­sidy added to elec­tric­ity bills.

Tur­bines have to be shut down at cer­tain times be­cause Bri­tain’s elec­tric­ity net­work is un­able to cope with the power they pro­duce.

On av­er­age, a wind farm paid to switch off earns about one-third more than if it pro­duced elec­tric­ity and sold it to the Na­tional Grid.

The scale of the pay­ments has bal­looned in the past two years. In 2012, wind farms were paid £5.9mil­lion to switch off. By last year, that had in­creased al­most ten­fold.

Since wind farms started re­ceiv­ing pay­ments five years ago, more than £100mil­lion has been paid out.

Over the past year, Whitelee wind farm, just out­side Glas­gow, has been paid more than £20mil­lion for turn­ing off its tur­bines.

With 215 tur­bines, Whitelee is Bri­tain’s largest on­shore wind farm and is owned by Scot­tish Power Re­new­ables, a sub­sidiary of the Span­ish en­ergy gi­ant Iber­drola.

A Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment spokesman said: ‘Sur­veys show there is strong public sup­port for on­shore wind and the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment is am­bi­tious for Scot­land’s tremen­dous green en­ergy po­ten­tial and its abil­ity to trans­form com­mu­ni­ties.

‘We con­tinue to lead the way in sup­port­ing lo­cal and com­mu­nity own­er­ship of re­new­able en­ergy. We re­main com­mit­ted to grow­ing re­new­ables and are keen to see the right de­vel­op­ments in the right places.

‘Scot­tish plan­ning pol­icy is clear that the de­sign and lo­ca­tion of re­new­ables projects should re­flect the scale and char­ac­ter of the land­scape, as well as be­ing con­sid­ered en­vi­ron­men­tally ac­cept­able.’

Grow­ing: Wind farms in Scot­land

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