Scotland Against Spin campaign

Campaign group Scotland against Spin (SAS) has submitted a petition to the Scottish Parliament, calling for greater powers for local communities faced with increasing numbers of industrial scale wind farms.

The sun sets behind Scotland's first wind farm on Hagshaw Hill near Douglas in Lanarkshire. The 26 turbine first produced electricity in 1995 and was extended to 46 turbines in 2008. It is operated by ScottishPower Renewables.

Founded in 2013, SAS is an independent, non political alliance which campaigns for the reform of the Scottish Government’s wind energy policies.

Run by volunteers from across Scotland, it is funded entirely by voluntary donations. Its large and growing membership includes people from all over Europe.

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Due to the rapid rise in wind farm proposals in Scotland, SAS has been overwhelmed in recent months with local residents and communities seeking help to object to applications and/or set up campaign groups.

Petition was submitted by SAS chairman Graham Lang.

Local communities are often unable to manage, either in terms of the expertise and manpower required to scrutinise large technical documents which accompany wind farm applications or to fundraise in order to employ professional help.

This leaves them particularly disadvantaged in a Public Inquiry situation where they face experienced professionals and the applicant’s consultants.

Graham Lang, SAS chairman, said: “They present wind farm applications in their most favourable light as meeting Scottish Government climate change targets while at the same time seeking to marginalise the evidence from public witnesses and avoiding expert scrutiny of potential adverse environmental impacts.”

As a member of the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division Stakeholders’ Forum, SAS has previously raised concerns.

However, due to the urgency of the situation it has now taken the opportunity to submit a public petition to the Scottish Parliament in a bid to move things along a little faster.

Graham added: “If the Scottish Government really believes that democracy matters and wants to give more power to communities to make their own decisions and have their voices heard then it must support the requests outlined in this petition.”

The petition urges the Scottish Government to increase the ability of communities to influence planning decisions for onshore windfarms by:

Adopting English planning legislation for the determination of onshore wind farm developments;

Empowering local authorities to ensure local communities are given sufficient professional help to engage in the planning process;

And appointing an independent advocate to ensure that local participants are not bullied and intimidated during public inquiries.

Once a new parliamentary committee has been established at the start of the new session, the petition will be added to t he agenda and SAS will be called to give evidence.

To find out more about Scotland Against Spin and keep up to date with the petition and its progress, visit scotlandagainstspin.org.