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United Kingdom

Scotland strengthens planning laws against wind

UK: Wind farm developments will face further restrictions in around a third of Scottish land, according to proposals published yesterday.

Holyrood... changes to planning laws
Holyrood... changes to planning laws

Government conservation agency Scottish Natural Heritage has published a map identifying 43 areas of land in the country's remoter upland, mountain and coastal areas which "have little or no capacity to accept new developments".

At the same time, the Scottish government published a draft permitting policy which states that wind farms will not be permitted in national parks. This is the first time this has been expressly enshrined in law, but there are no wind farms in national parks in Scotland.

Together, the proposals mean that 31% of Scotland's land mass will have strengthened environmental protection against wind farm developments, which includes the 19% of land covered by national parks.

Jenny Hogan, director of policy for Scottish Renewables voiced concerns that excluding large areas of the country suitable for wind farms could potentially slow progress towards meeting Scotland's renewable energy targets.

She said: "Ultimately decisions over where wind farms can and can't be built are for democratically elected politicians both locally and nationally.

"It is important that the consultation on the planning proposals brings greater clarity to all those concerned with making decisions about Scotland's landscapes and power needs."

The policy also confirmed that local councils cannot impose moratoria on onshore wind development.

This follows requests last year from two local authorities in Scotland for a temporary halt to the construction of more wind farms after they claimed to have been inundated with "opportunistic" applications.

The government rejected their requests, claiming it would cause undue delay to developments.

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