First Minister insists communities are not sidelined in wind farm planning
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has denied claims that the concerns of homeowners who live near wind farms are ignored by the Scottish Government.
Reporters appointed by Scottish Ministers have come under fire in recent years for approving controversial applications after they were rejected by Highland Council.
But the First Minister said that communities are "central" to the planning policy of renewable energy, although she admitted it can be a difficult to find a happy medium.
"Balances are often difficult to strike and we have made sure that wind farm planning takes account of the natural environment and the scenery, as one of the country’s biggest assets," she said.
"There are parts of the country where developments like that can’t happen and we have a planning process that is robust and about making sure the right balanced decisions to be taken and allows the views of communities to be heard."
Ms Sturgeon added that renewable energy is one of the biggest opportunities for growth in Scotland.
"It’s worth noting that off shore wind farms are creating jobs at Nigg and Wick.
"Renewable energy is bringing economic as well as environmental benefits to the country.
"We always have to make sure we get that balance right but renewable energy, and not just on shore wind but in the broadest sense, is one of the biggest opportunities that we have as a country.
"For the Highlands and Islands, as well as the rest of the country, we have to make sure we harness that but the views and concerns of communities have to be central to that."