The head of the Ramblers in Scotland has called for a halt to what he called the country’s disastrous energy policies that have seen its world-famous landscapes desecrated by windfarms.
Convenor Dennis Canavan said it was a scandal that energy companies were receiving public money not to run their wind turbines.
The call came in the light of the revelation that six windfarm operators were paid £900,000 not to run their turbines for several hours last month.
Mr Canavan, an ex-MP and MSP, said the next Scottish Government should carry out a fundamental review of the role of windfarm development in energy strategy.
He said: “The windfarm gravy train needs to be stopped before it crashes into the buffers.
“It is an absolute scandal that these windfarm operators are being paid excessive levels of subsidy to produce electricity and then even more subsidy to not produce it! Why should citizens throughout Scotland have to pay the hidden subsidies contained within their electricity bills so that this nonsense can continue?
“When voters go to the polls on Thursday they need to understand that, over the last ten years, successive governments in both Holyrood and Westminster have put in place disastrous energy policies.
“Scotland’s world famous landscapes are being desecrated at huge cost to every citizen while leaving the energy companies and large private landowners laughing all the way to the bank.”
The Ramblers Scotland convenor said a balance has to be struck between renewable energy and protection of the countryside. “I welcome the desire of politicians across all parties to substantially increase the proportion of energy generated from renewable sources,” he added. “But this cannot be done in a sensitive and cost effective way while there is excessive reliance on large scale onshore windfarms.
“The next Holyrood government must seriously consider a halt to all such onshore development while the Westminster government develops a new UK-wide scheme to focus financial support for large scale windfarm development onto offshore locations and an associated subsea grid network.
“The industrialisation of our wild and beautiful mountains and moors with wind turbines and roads must stop. I do not want to see any politicians elected to Holyrood who support the blowing away of our money in such crazy ways. Scotland needs politicians with the vision and initiative to devise a practical renewable energy policy without vandalising our natural heritage.”
Voters in Scotland will go to the polls on Thursday to elect MSPs to Holyrood. Alex Salmond’s Scottish National Party has run a minority government for the last four years.