Conservation charity the John Muir Trust yesterday responded to the announcement by the UK government of a 10% cut in the subsidy level for wind energy production by calling for legal protection for the top 10% of wild land in the UK.
Stuart Brooks, chief executive of the Trust, said:
'There are two aspects of major concern for lovers of natural landscapes from current energy policies. Most of the UK's top 10 per cent of wild land has no statutory protection and there are now a host of applications for industrial energy developments coming through in iconic areas, for instance in the Scottish Highlands and the Lake District.'
The Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) subsidy just announced favours large scale onshore wind developments, rather than energy conservation measures or other more environmentally sensitive renewable schemes, argue the JMT.
'The cut in wind subsidy is not enough to reduce the goldrush despoiling our landscapes' says Stuart Brooks.
'We are at a tipping point regarding wild land. In 2002, Scottish Natural Heritage data showed that 41 per cent of Scotland was unaffected by visual impact from built development, but in 2009 that figure dropped to 28 per cent – mainly due to wind developments. We're asking all UK governments to explain what measures they will put in place for natural landscape protection.'
'It is reported that the Treasury is looking at how to change the English planning process around turbines, to try to give local communities more say and potentially share some of the financial benefits. However, any such measure would bring no protection to Scottish wild land areas.'
The Trust's Wild Land Campaign is seeking statutory protection for wild land so that it is there for the next generation.