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Blow for wind farm protesters

WIND FARM protesters have been dealt a potentially devastating blow after an influential watchdog backed developers’ pleas for compulsory purchase powers.

CRE Energy Ltd, an offshoot of ScottishPower and the company behind the controversial Greenknowes plan for the Ochil Hills, has demanded the right of compulsory purchase where their plans for wind farms are blocked by landowners.

Energy industry regulator Ofgem have indicated they should be given the powers, although any final decisions would be left with Scottish Ministers. The powers would cover access roads and ancillary sites as well as the actual wind farm sites.

However, the move has been branded “the end of democracy” by one local objector.

Although Ofgem intends undertaking a full review of the issue, an initial report explaining its backing states, “In its application CRE explained that it intends to develop a series of wind farms at various locations in the UK in respect of which it considered it would be helpful to have the power to acquire land compulsorily.

“CRE also considered that it would be helpful to have the power of compulsory wayleaves available to it for activities such as the installation and connection of associated cables, the export of power off site, construction and lay down areas and access.

“In its application CRE confirmed that, in the first instance, it... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
CRE Energy Ltd, an offshoot of ScottishPower and the company behind the controversial Greenknowes plan for the Ochil Hills, has demanded the right of compulsory purchase where their plans for wind farms are blocked by landowners.

Energy industry regulator Ofgem have indicated they should be given the powers, although any final decisions would be left with Scottish Ministers. The powers would cover access roads and ancillary sites as well as the actual wind farm sites.

However, the move has been branded “the end of democracy” by one local objector.

Although Ofgem intends undertaking a full review of the issue, an initial report explaining its backing states, “In its application CRE explained that it intends to develop a series of wind farms at various locations in the UK in respect of which it considered it would be helpful to have the power to acquire land compulsorily.

“CRE also considered that it would be helpful to have the power of compulsory wayleaves available to it for activities such as the installation and connection of associated cables, the export of power off site, construction and lay down areas and access.

“In its application CRE confirmed that, in the first instance, it is its intention to attempt to acquire land and/or wayleaves by negotiation with the relevant landowner(s) and not by seeking authorisation for compulsory acquisition and/or compulsory wayleaves from the Secretary of State. However, it considered that it would be helpful to prepare for the possibility of having to acquire land and/or wayleaves compulsorily.”

It continues, “Ofgem considers that this preliminary view is consistent with the principal objective of the Authority to protect the interests of consumers, wherever appropriate, by promoting effective competition between persons engaged in the generation of supply, and further that this preliminary view will assist in the meeting of all reasonable demands for electricity.”

The stance has been slammed by pressure groups.

Gill Wilson of Perthshire group, ASWAG (Amulree and Strathbraan Windfarm Action Group) said, “There was me thinking we live in a democracy but obviously not.

“Haven’t they got enough powers already with 400 applications for wind farms sitting with the Scottish Executive? Why do they need to do this.

“Every part of Scotland will be vulnerable and there will be no-one left to turn to.”

Perth man Neil McKinnon—a long time critic of wind farms— said, “It is a very worrying and alarming development. To me, if this is seen as acceptable practice, such is the end of democracy.”

But CRE Energy have denied they are attempting to ride roughshod over the planning process.

A spokesman said, “There is no question of us adopting a policy of using these powers to purchase land for wind farms.”

“They would be used as a last resort to buy small parcels of land when we are being held to ransom, for example for grid connections or points for the erection of electricity poles.

“At the main wind farm site we work in co-operation with the landowner. It would not be in our interests to use these powers to purchase windfarm sites.”

Ofgem’s preliminary view on compulsory purchases is now out for public consultation.

Source: http://www.thecourier.co.uk...

JAN 21 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/1025-blow-for-wind-farm-protesters
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