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Moray seeks moratorium on wind turbines
Posted on 08 July 2012
On 3 July, Moray Council decided to seek agreement from the Scottish Government to a moratorium on windfarm applications. This follows similar requests from Aberdeenshire, in April, and Fife, last month.
The approach being taken is exactly what was proposed for Orkney by a number of OIC candidates during the May election, including the members of the Orkney Manifesto Group.
The Moray Council will call on the Scottish Government to agree to freeze applications for windfarm developments in Moray while new policy guidance on the erection of wind turbines is developed.
Meanwhile, OIC councillors have been learning some of the planning options open to them, and the implications of those options.
Essentially, there are two possible approaches to the siting of large wind turbines: one is criteria-based, while the other is spatially-based. The current policy depends on a set of well-defined criteria. In principle, these could be revised in order to control the siting of large turbines more tightly.
The second option is to switch the basis of planning from the fixed set of criteria to zoning of large turbines in windfarms. This is the option favoured by the OMG in its manifesto. In order to identify the zones where windfarm development would be encouraged, an independent wind energy landscape capacity study is required. This is essential to meet legal requirements.
The OMG supports the commissioning of such a study as soon as practicable and will pursue this within the Council.
Cllr Bill Stout comments, "Organising and conducting a landscape study will take several months. Meanwhile there is a steady stream of applications coming in to the Council. It is essential that we follow Moray’s example and request a moratorium on large scale turbines while a study is carried out.
“While we support the generation of renewable, ‘green’ energy, we feel it is imperative that future developments should be closely controlled so that our unique environment is not blighted.
"It remains to be seen whether the Scottish Government will give Moray and the other local authorities a sympathetic hearing, given that the development of renewable energy is a major plank of SNP policy. They may well be reluctant to support any action which might threaten their renewable targets. We will watch this space with interest."
Scottish Government planning policy does require local authorities to develop windfarm spatial frameworks. Orkney differs from Aberdeenshire, Fife and Moray in that the latter three already have spatial frameworks in place. A moratorium request from Orkney in order to comply with planning policy might be more favourably looked upon.
Posted on 08 July 2012