Tories and SNP clash over wind power support
The Scottish government says a new poll shows the public is in favour of wind power, despite the Conservative Party citing thousands of objections as evidence of widespread opposition.
The YouGov poll suggests that a majority of supporters of every party - including Tories - support wind power.
But anti-wind farm campaigners arranged a protest at the SNP conference.
More than 44,000 objections to wind farm applications in the past five years showed public alarm, they said.
The Conservative Party said that figures obtained from 23 of 32 Scottish local authorities showed that about 34,000 objections were submitted to councils.
This ranged from an estimated 9,421 in Aberdeenshire, to two objections in East Dunbartonshire.
Six other councils have received more than 1,000 objections, ranging from 3,333 in Argyll and Bute to 1,342 in South Ayrshire.
Around two-fifths of the 44,000 total were received in 2012, the Conservatives claim.
Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser, convener of the Scottish Parliament's energy committee, said: "The tens of thousands of objections right across the country show the sheer level of public alarm at the SNP's wind farm obsession.
"And, what's worse, all too often these concerns are completely ignored by an SNP government intent on fulfilling their own ludicrous renewable energy goals, whatever the cost.
"People aren't just concerned about wind farms ruining their landscape and quality of life, they don't want Scotland's electricity supply dependent on a source that is unreliable and intermittent."
Mr Fraser complained that the Scottish government's SNP administration was disrespecting local views when overturning decisions against wind farms made at council level.
However, Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse highlighted the poll suggesting that 77% of SNP supporters, 76% of Liberal Democrat supporters, 68% of Labour supporters and 55% of Conservative supporters "support the continuing development of wind power as part of a mix of renewable and conventional forms of electricity generation".
The MSP said that a majority of the supporters of each party were also in favour of wind farm developments even when they were in their own area.
When asked if they would be for or against the development of large-scale wind energy projects being built in their council area, 77% of SNP supporters, 71% of Liberal Democrat supporters, 64% of Labour supporters and 53% of Conservative supporters said they were in favour.
Mr Wheelhouse pointed out that the poll coincided with thousands of people around Scotland taking part in events on Saturday evening in support of WWF's Earth Hour.
"Given that, this year, WWF have chosen the focus of Earth Hour to be renewable energy, I am delighted that new You Gov polling shows cross-party support for wind energy," he said.
"Even Tory supporters are in favour of wind power. Clearly, it is time for the Tory politicians to listen to their supporters."
Mr Wheelhouse said that Scotland was a world leader in tackling climate change and in renewable energy - and that the government would continue to pursue its target for renewable energy to produce the equivalent of 100% of electricity from renewables by 2020.