A DECISION to refuse a moratorium on wind turbine applications in Moray has been branded undemocratic.
Derek Ross, member of Save the Brown Muir group, said the decision by the Scottish Government to reject Moray Council’s proposal to postpone onshore turbine requests until after their consultation on the subject, took power away from local communities.
Mr Ross is part of the group campaigning against plans by developer Vento Ludens to erect 19 turbines on Brown Muir, near Elgin.
He said: "This business of making decisions away from the people and taking them to Glasgow and Edinburgh – it’s like a done deal. This flies in the face of democracy.
"I do feel sorry for the councillors, but the Scottish Government does what it wants."
He called on Moray MSP Richard Lochhead to make his views known on the subject.
Minister for Local Government and Planning, Derek Mackay, wrote to council leader Allan Wright earlier this month, confirming the Government’s opposition to the moratorium.
Mr Mackay said his reason for rejecting the authority’s request was it would be unprecedented in Scottish planning practice, that there was not a compelling case for a moratorium and once lifted it would result in greater pressure on services, with a surge of delayed applications.
The council’s planning and regulatory services committee made the decision last month to seek a moratorium, which received cross-party support.
This week Elgin Community Council agreed to submit a formal objection to the wind farm development at Brown Muir to the Scottish Government.
In a letter to the Energy Consents Unit, which will deal with the objection, James Wiseman, member of the community council’s planning committee, said there were concerns over job creation, insufficient mitigation of environmental issues, errors in the application and the aesthetics of the development.
He added: "We believe the popular opinion of Elgin people is that the Brown Muir hill should remain as it is.
"It can be seen from all over Elgin and indeed Moray.
"It is by far the most prominent feature visible from the town of Elgin, and regardless of any planning designations it is seen as being important to the character of Elgin, like the backcloth to a play."
Mr Wiseman added there were also concerns over the cumulative effect of wind farms not just around the Moray capital but across the local authority area.
At the community council’s meeting on Tuesday, George Littlejohn urged his fellow members to agree to hold a public meeting to discuss issues surrounding the development.
However, the proposal did not receive the backing of the community council members.