The Convener of Ramblers Scotland, Dennis Canavan, has called for fundamental changes to the public subsidies that support windfarm development in Scotland. Following a Ramblers advertisement in the Guardian newspaper this week Canavan has spelt out the need for a concerted effort by the tourist industry to demand a halt on large scale onshore windfarm developments.
Dennis Canavan said: “We are working with the tourist industry to help visitors enjoy and appreciate our wild places. But our message carries a serious warning: Enjoy the stunning landscapes of Scotland now, before a massive expansion in wind turbines and bulldozed access roads turns our wild places into industrial landscapes. Reports from Scottish Natural Heritage have spelt out the rapid rate of wild land loss in recent years and this must be stopped.”
Dennis Canavan explained that the key to halting this destruction was to turn off the tap of public subsidy that left landowners and energy companies speaking of “irresistible” levels of subsidy and laughing all the way to the bank. He said:
“It is astonishing that the public subsidy provided by the Renewables Obligation and funded by every UK electricity consumer is encouraging such a reckless disregard for the natural beauty of our land. How can we continue to claim that Scotland is the Adventure Capital of Europe when the very resource that reputation depends on is being squandered?”
Nevertheless, Dennis Canavan made clear that he is supportive of efforts to develop renewable energy: “I welcome the aspirations of the Scottish Government to meet all our energy needs from renewable sources. But there is an urgent need to change the policies, targets and financial incentives that are set at European and UK levels so that those aspirations can be met in ways which do not destroy the natural beauty of Scotland. There are many options for renewable energy development which deserve far more public funding support. We need to persuade politicians to shift the subsidy away from massive land based wind farms and into small scale farm/croft and community based wind turbine developments, solar, biomass and geothermal systems. Large scale wind farms should be confined to offshore locations, along with wave and tidal developments and improved financial support.
Dennis Canavan indicated that the next stages of this campaign will focus on those who enjoy and appreciate Scotland’s wild places: “Our Guardian advert points the way forward. We need to persuade all those who have experienced Scotland’s wild places to engage with politicians in the UK and European Parliaments. The message must be: ‘Why are you wasting our money on this senseless industrialisation of one of Europe’s finest remaining tracts of unspoilt land?’ Surely there are better ways to secure Europe’s energy future.”