New guidance for windfarms

Aberdeen Central SNP MSP Kevin Stewart
Aberdeen Central SNP MSP Kevin Stewart

The Scottish Government is to produce new guidance to give better protection to people who live near the sites of proposed windfarms.

Ministers will publish draft proposals shortly which will be open to public consultation.

The responses will be analysed and used to shape the guidance which will be published next Spring.

The move follows a campaign at the Scottish Parliament which called for the neighbour notification distance for applications to be extended beyond 65ft of a development so more people can have a say on the plans.

Windfarm protester Aileen Jackson urged MSPs to change the rules so householders and businesses within a distance of 10 times the height of the turbines – to their blade tip – are notified.

That could involve householders and businesses a mile away from a proposed development with 528ft masts.

The campaign was supported by Moray Council planning convener Douglas Ross and Peter Argyle, chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s infrastructure services committee.

Scottish Government planner Michael Westwater said: “In response to the petition the Scottish Government will produce good practice guidance in relation to public engagement on proposals for wind turbines.

“We have begun gathering information on existing practices in this regard and the drafting of the guidance has now commenced.

“A public consultation exercise will be carried out on the draft guidance as part of the stakeholder engagement.”

Holyrood’s local government and regeneration committee closed the petition yesterday in light of the government announcement.

Convener Kevin Stewart, MSP for Aberdeen Central, paid tribute to Ms Jackson, a member of Uplawmoor Windfarm Protest Group which is based near Glasgow.

He said he hoped she would be consulted on the draft guidance and her views taken into account before the government made a final decision.

Mr Stewart said he hoped the guidance would be sent to all local authorities and given to all onshore windfarm developers.

“I feel this is an excellent example of an individual using the parliament’s petition system to make meaningful change in areas of important public policy,” he added.