Campaign group wants louder voice for communities on wind farm planning decisions
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A campaign group is calling for residents in the strath concerned by the growing number of wind farms surrounding the Cairngorms National Park to support a bid to give communities a louder voice in the planning process.
Scotland Against Spin wants the Scottish Government to increase the ability of communities to influence decisions on onshore windfarms.
There are concerns the current system means that communities and even statutory consultees have little input and are fighting against the tide when it comes to the construction of wind farms.
In a petition submitted to Holyrood at the end of March, Scotland Against Spin is calling for:
* the adoption of English planning legislation for the determination of onshore wind farm developments;
* empowerment of local authorities to ensure local communities are given sufficient professional help to engage in the planning process; and
* appointment of an independent advocate to ensure that local participants are not bullied and intimidated during public inquiries.
Graham Lang, chairman of Scotland Against Spin, said that communities in the Highlands in particular had lost out under the current planning rules.
He said: "There are existing grave concerns about the proliferation of wind farms surrounding the Cairngorms National Park and the effect they are having on the local landscape.
"With 533 turbines currently in the planning process for Highland region alongside the 770 currently in operation, the situation can only get worse as National Planning Policy is very supportive of wind farm development in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK and suitable sites are becoming increasingly more difficult to find.
"We have many members throughout the Highlands who are aware of the Petition and will respond but there may be some who have not been informed and these as the people we are trying to reach.
"They will all have their own opinions and relevant stories to tell and the Public Petitions Committee in Edinburgh need to hear them.
"We understand it takes a lot more effort to write a submission as opposed to just putting your name on a Petition but that extra effort will have much more effect and could make a real difference in the future for our cherished landscapes and rural communities throughout the whole of Scotland.
"A public petition of this kind, direct to the Scottish Parliament means the Government have to be consulted and they must respond, they can't wriggle out of it.
"We urge everyone to make their voices heard."
He added: "If the Scottish Government really believe that most of our rural communities support further onshore wind farm development then they should have nothing to fear from this Petition".
Members of the public now have the opportunity to send submissions to the Public Petitions Committee in support of the changes.
In order to have the Petition heard in the Scottish Parliament before summer recess, a deadline has been set for next Monday (June 14).
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