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The truths they don't want you to read....

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mather unplugged

At the weekend I was speaking to another person who had been a very strong and vocal supporter of wind farms in the Western Isles, and like me he was totally disillusioned with the theory and practice of the Scottish Government energy policy.

I have been particularly bemused by the claim by Jim Mather, restated today, that the Government could not force the Beauly-Denny line to be undergrounded.

At the time that the various windfarm applications came to the Council, we were clearly told that the Council could impose any conditions they saw fit, and that the developers could either challenge them as being unreasonable, or accept them (or walk away). For that reasons a large number of mitigation measures were insisted upon, including undergrounding part of the overhead lines, especially around Barvas.

We were also clearly told that when the application went to Government for a decision, then Government could still impose, modify or remove any conditions that they saw fit. This was stated at the public meetings by the Civil Servants and made clear to us in discussions with the Government.

Obviously, they don't want to do that if they can, and it was clear that they would either be major decisions - for instance a big block of turbines not being allowed - or trivial matters - such as amending membership of one of the working groups.

It appears that there has been a fundamental change in the interpretation of the Planning Legislation leaving the Government (a their own desire) with a simple Yes/No option, and all the power to decide upon terms and conditions with the Councils.

Is this better?

No, I don't think so, as the ability of the Government to satisfy wider strategic objectives or simply ensure consistency by amending individual applications can only be to the ultimate benefit of the process.

What we have here is a piecemeal approach of dealing with each issue as it arises, irrespective of how it fits into the bigger picture, and that doesn't benefit anyone.

It is all very cackhanded and bumbling, and does nothing to dispel the impression of a very difficult decision avoided, and the easiest decision taken without sensible justification.


sm753 said...

"cackhanded and bumbling"



The man is an incompetent, borderline-senile fool.

I expect a "clarification" of his comments will be issued eventually.

Dr Evadne said...

The Comhairle could have forced SHETL to run the HVDC connector into Arnish instead of the environmentaly sensitive site at Gravir. But they were swayed (somehow) by SHETL pleading poverty.

The same seems to be the case for Beauly-Denny. Why should it bother the Scottish Exec that SHETL should have to fork out more cash to bury cables underground or stick them in the sea? Brown envelopes? I don't think its as sophisticated as that. The B-D decision issued by Mather makes Mckaskill's Al Mehgrahi fiasco look almost credible.

Anonymous said...

Also interesting to read this morning that Mather went against the recommendations of the reporters that certain sections should be undergrounded due to the unacceptable impact on certain properties.

Parallels can be drawn with the Comhairle decision to unilaterally regard 1.5km as a suitable separation distance between wind turbines and communities rather than falling in with the new Scottish Government Policy which recommends that planners should be considering 2km as the boundary for acceptable amenity impact.

Long gone are the days where politicians represent constituencies.