Reasons why wind farm are good idea

It follows recent criticism that they are a blight on the landscape and swallow up vast amounts of public subsidy, with US tycoon Donald Trump railing against their impact at Holyrood last month.

The UK government has released a study of 18 wind farms, half of which are in Scotland. The report says communities around those wind farms benefited to the tune of GBP84 million last year, with 1,100 local jobs supported.

The research led BiGGAR Economics to conclude that, in total, Britain’s onshore wind farms supported 8,600 jobs and were worth GBP548m to the UK economy in 2011.

Scotland now accounts for more than 60 per cent of the wind power in the UK as the SNP aims to generate the equivalent of all Scotland’s electricity needs from renewables – wind, wave, tidal and hydro power schemes – by 2020.

Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing welcomed the report saying: "Scotland’s wind industry is already employing thousands of people and with our tremendous natural renewables potential set to benefit our communities, our economy and our environment even further, this report is evidence of the long-term benefits for pursuing a balanced energy policy.

"Our huge energy resource is helping drive economic growth, demonstrated most recently with the GBP125m investment by Gamesa to bring 800 jobs to its wind turbine manufacturing hub at Leith,"

UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: "Onshore wind power is a cost effective and valuable part of the UK’s diverse energy mix. Not only does wind power provide secure low carbon power to homes and businesses, it supports jobs and brings significant investment."

But the report found that while the majority of the money generated during the development and operating phases of onshore wind farms stays in the UK, more than half of construction spending goes abroad,

Industry body RenewableUK’s chief executive Maria McCaffery said the study showed that every megawatt of wind power capacity installed generated almost GBP700,000, with GBP100,000 staying in the local community.

The report, which analysed the contribution of wind farm development, construction and operation to the economy, is the latest salvo in an increasingly bitter battle over wind power.

Mr Trump was met with cheers from anti-wind farm campaigners as he left Holyrood, as well as jeers from environmentalists.

He is furious about plans for an offshore wind farm near his golf development in Aberdeenshire.

The SNP Government is forging ahead with turbine erections to help meet renewables targets and tackle global warming, but many local groups insist areas of natural beauty are being scarred.

The Treasury has been accused of not backing the drive to develop clean energy sources, but the report says the technology generates GBP198m a year in taxes.

This could rise to GBP373m for the exchequer by 2020 and up to 15,459 jobs in the industry could be supported by then if the Government presses ahead with plans to treble the level of wind farms, contributing a projected total of GBP780m to the UK.