The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is being asked to investigate the conduct of her own Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, after he was accused of blocking one windfarm to pave the way for another backed by the Duke of Buccleuch, Britain's largest private landowner.
The accusations – which are denied by the Scottish Government and Buccleuch – have been prompted by Ewing’s shock decision on 18 February to reject a popular plan to erect 30 wind turbines at Sandy Knowe at Kirkconnel in Dumfries and Galloway. The planning application attracted 81 representations of support, and only two objections.
The Buccleuch estate had originally objected to the application, but withdrew its submission in March 2014. On 12 February 2015 a company involving Buccleuch gave formal notice that it would be applying for planning permission for eight wind turbines at nearby Glenmuckloch, an old opencast coal mine.
One of the reasons given by Ewing for rejecting Sandy Knowe was that the landscape could be damaged by a "coalescence between potential clusters” of wind turbines. He was concerned that the cumulative visual impact of multiple developments could turn the area into a “windfarm landscape”.
This has led political opponents to accuse Ewing of rejecting Sandy Knowe so that Glenmuckloch would have a clear run. They question whether his behaviour complies with the Scottish Government’s code on ministerial conduct.