Most wind farm developers are acting responsibly and avoiding the most environmentally sensitive sites in Scotland, says a report by government advisors Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). Over the past five years, the conservation quango has lodged no objection in principle to around 75% of applications. But the report warns that this record will be more difficult to achieve as the most suitable sites are used up. The numbers of applications in areas of "medium sensitivity," including Sites of Special Scientific Interest, have risen from 33% in November 2004 to 42% in 2006. "We also have to face up to the tricky issue of the inter-relationships between wind farms, or "cumulative impact", as it is known," says Bill Brand from SNH. Proposed and approved wind projects total 9015 MW of capacity, putting Scotland on track to meet its target of 40% of electricity from renewables by 2020. Maf Smith of Scottish Renewables welcomes the report saying it shows the wind industry is acting responsibly. "The industry has clearly followed existing SNH guidelines to make sure that it chooses the good sites," he says. "Both SNH and ourselves have called upon the Scottish Executive to beef up cumulative impact guidance and industry has worked closely with SNH and local planning authorities in drawing up new tools to help take this into account in new proposals. Based on experience to date, we are confident that this issue can be managed effectively without there being any new problems created."
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