VITAL planning permission for almost 50 wind farms in Scotland could be lost along with jobs in the industry unless a political ban on their access to the energy market is lifted, according to new research.

The study from industry body Scottish Renewables said the wind farms could produce enough energy to power the equivalent of 850,000 homes.

It also came against a warning from wind turbine manufacturer, CS Wind, that market conditions meant it might have to cut three quarters of its almost 100 workforce in Campbeltown.

Scottish Renewables said the wind farms identified in its study would increase Scotland’s renewable energy capacity by almost 15% – but most have not been built because of a UK Government block on onshore wind power.

Other issues affecting their development included the speed at which alterations to projects, which were vital to improve their economics, were held up in Scotland’s planning system, as well as increased fees for planning services, business rates and aviation issues.

Planning permission for the 47 projects, stretching from Shetland to Dumfriesshire, was obtained during the period of the UK Government’s onshore wind moratorium – and will begin to expire from next spring (2020).

Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “It is heart-breaking to see jobs being lost at CS Wind in Argyll as the projects which could have provided the company with work are unable to proceed in large part because of the UK Government’s politically motivated intransigence.

“New onshore wind farms are the cheapest form of energy generation, and therefore the cheapest way we have of tackling the climate emergency.

“Developers are desperate to build these projects, which alone would increase Scotland’s renewable energy capacity by almost 15% and deliver vital jobs for companies like CS Wind.”

Mack said the popularity of offshore wind was at an all-time high, with 79% of people supporting the technology.

Between them, the 47 onshore wind projects identified in the new research would add almost 1.6GW of renewable energy capacity in Scotland, enough to power the equivalent of 850,000 homes.

Mack added: “Scottish Renewables polling earlier this year showed

that almost seven in 10 Scots living in rural areas support the use of onshore wind energy, so the case is clear-cut: the UK Government’s opposition to onshore wind is as wrong-headed today as it was when it curtailed this cheap, popular technology’s access to the energy market in 2015.

“It is imperative that that ban is lifted as a matter of urgency and that issues which have been identified with Scotland’s planning system are addressed so these projects can deliver economic and social benefits for Scotland, as well as helping meet our stretching climate targets.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “As we have always said, any form of low-carbon innovation or tech must represent best value for money for our hard working taxpayers, and we have committed to holding another round of clean electricity auction in 2021.

“This will all help in our mission to go further and faster to end our contribution to climate change by 2050. 

“Planning policy in Scotland is devolved and is a matter for the Scottish Government.”