Is this what Scottish democracy looks like?

The campaign for Scottish Independence puts the Scottish voice to the fore but the Scottish voice has been squashed on the island of Cumbrae as the reporter from the Sottish Government's Planning and Environmental Appeals Division reversed the decision by North Ayrshire’s planning committee and decided to approve the application for a solar farm on Wee Minnimoer. 

Needless to say, the island community, who made over 300 submissions in writing to the Council asking for the rejection and making sound arguments about damage to the environment, are furious.  One resident on the island said to me: "Is this what Scottish democracy looks like?" He did not wait for my response.

The island’s views are based on the indigenous experience of an island that is important for residents and visitors alike. Residents are not against solar energy or any other source of clean power but they are against thoughtless planning that stands to do irreversible damage. 

Residents on the island are not jumping on the environmental bandwagon hoping to make a smart profit from their point of view. Should this project go ahead, it seems subsidies and tax concessions will amount to a tidy income which will in the end be payment for creating endless damage on the island. 

‘Damage’ is the right word for this project. It has already, before a fence, a security post or a camera has been erected, led to the planning process being exposed as a farce. Residents feel they have no say in the future of the island. 

Soliciting the community’s views is an empty PR gesture that now has been shown to have nothing to do with care about the environment. Comsol’s application was a mere formality. The Scottish Government has had the final say, not just on this project, but on the way they see democracy.  It is not a democracy I recognise.

Now however is the time that the campaign should face up to a few unpleasant realities.  There has been a lot at stake in this whole tragic fiasco. Careful consideration of care for the island has been trodden into the ground by the Edinburgh juggernaut.   

The politicians in Edinburgh who signed off this appeal verdict should be hanging their heads in shame. 

I urge all those concerned at this decision to send letters outlining their views to People surely have to respond to this gross abuse of ordinary on-the-ground democracy.

Keith Hammond