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Last Updated: Friday, 12 December, 2003, 10:03 GMT
Call to keep wind farms in check
Wind farm
Turbines are becoming a common sight
Greater regulation of Scotland's growing number of wind farms is needed, according to campaigners.

Supporters say Scotland is realising its green power potential, but some locals believe they are getting more than their fair share of developments.

Argyll and Bute has the biggest concentration of wind farms and that number is about to double from four to eight, with more in the pipeline.

Pressure group Views of Scotland wants to see a national strategy developed.

It believes green energy targets and commercial pressures are driving wind power developments into increasingly unsuitable sites.

Power companies have claimed local people have been supportive, but campaigners believe resentment about the number of farms is growing.

If you've got an area which is an establish amenity and important tourist spot, it makes no sense that you suddenly put an industrial development on it, it is not a park or farm, it is heavy industry
Christine Metcalf
Anti-wind farm campaigner
Jason Ormiston, from the trade body, the Scottish Renewable Forum, said: "The developer has to identify the site, they then look at the environmental impact of the development and talk to up to 80 interested parties and get feedback from them.

"They then go through the planning process which could take up to a year, or two perhaps, and then once the go-ahead is given it could take up to nine months to build."

Views of Scotland says it is not against all wind farms but it is unhappy about what is happening in Argyll.

Argyll resident and pressure group member, Graham Henderson, says the choosing of a site is left to the market.

He said: "There is no overall strategy, that is the point. There is plenty of guidance for the individual planner but there is no real overall strategy. It is driven by commercial need and we are very concerned about the effect on an area like this."

Clear guidance

The Scottish Executive says that all developments over 50 megawatts, which could be about 50 turbines, come to it for approval. The rest is decided at a local level, which it believes is the best system.

Alan Mortimer, head of wind development at Scottish Power, said: "There is a strategy which is in the form of very clear guidance from government about where wind farms should be located and procedures before a plan goes forward."

Mr Henderson says that within a 30 mile radius in Argyll there are five proposed or functioning wind farms.

Mr Mortimer says Argyll is so popular because of its windiness and its access to the grid.

Christine Metcalf, who is against two dozen turbines being built on a ridge on Loch Avich, said: "If you've got an area which is an establish amenity and important tourist spot, it makes no sense that you suddenly put an industrial development on it, it is not a park or farm, it is heavy industry."

To meet the first of two executive green energy targets, there may have to be 1,000 turbines built by the end of the decade, at the moment there are 200.

BBC Scotland's Louise Batchelor
"Scotland only has a fifth of the turbines needed to meet the executive's green energy target"

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