Consultation is one of those words that make you reach for the air freshener. Governments tend to use it when they’ve decided on a policy but want a bit of added democracy to make it look better. Thus, and most recently, the plan to blanket Scotland in wind farms: “Subject to public consultation, we will set an ambition for between eight and 12 gigawatts of installed onshore wind by 2030,” says a Scottish government spokesman. “We will ensure that the planning system enables the growth of this zero-carbon sector while continuing to protect our natural heritage.” Every word of that is open to question. If consultation means anything, then rural communities, already hemmed in by wind farms, are bound to object. Will their voice be heard? How can an “ambition” for 4,000 new turbines be realised in the next nine years, when local authorities have the first word on planning consent, and each scheme needs detailed appraisal? Who decides whether natural heritage is “protected” by a string of turbines straddling an unspoilt hill?
Times 6th Sept 2021 read more »