Fear wind farm plan could become latest example of ‘democratic deficit’

Campaigners have urged the Scottish Government not to let the latest wind farm bid in Dumfries and Galloway become another example of “democratic deficit”.

Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 11:14 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 11:14 am
Save Our Hills wants decision made locally, not in Holyrood

As reported in the Galloway Gazette the Scottish Government is currently considering an application by Falck for the Mochrum Fell development, near Corsock.

It comes after Dumfries and Galloway Council were unable to reach a decision on a revised application that was submitted last Octiober, which would see the height of the turbines increased from the previous application.

The original application had been rejected by the local authority, but subsequently given the green light by the Scottish Government on appeal.

Now Save Our Hills has warned that, should the latest submission win approval, “local democracy will have been completely bypassed”.

It has reported that there had been 45 occasions in the last decade where councils had been unable to adjudicate on wind farm applications in the statutory timeframe.

That triggers a “deemed refusal”, which enables a developer to immediately appeal to the Scottish Government to make a decision.

Of those 45 instances, 14 have occurred in Dumfries and Galloway.

Iain Milligan, spokesman for Save Our Hills, said: “When major onshore wind farm applications are lodged, the public expectation is that the council will make a decision.

“That’s why people elect local councillors and why their council tax pays for planning officials.

“It’s the whole point of local democracy, so that those living with the decisions taken have a considerable hand in making them.

“But with Mochrum Fell we see once more a major democratic deficit.

“If the Scottish Government allows this application to go through, it will have happened against the will of local elected representatives.

“The community has said no, the planning experts have said no, and the local authority has said no.

“For officials and ministers in Edinburgh to say yes would be an outrage. Local democracy will have been completely bypassed.

“This plan should come back to the council, who in turn should be given the time and resources to rule on it properly.”