June 3, 2004

Wind farm protests go UK-wide

[The following is an excerpt from an article in the July 2004 issue of the U.K. magazine The Great Outdoors (tgo), transcribed from a scan provided to Country Guardian.]

'In a letter to tgo, Ms [Lisbet] Rausing asks if Britain can afford to savage its natural beauty. "For the same taxpayers' money that wind farms cost," she wrote, "many more C02 emissions could be saved by more conventional means -- by cleaning up coal power plants globally, by saving energy, and so on.

'"My husband and I may be getting a wind farm on the border of our Scottish home at Corrour, by the Blackwater Reservoir. At the moment feasibility studies are being carried out but if it does go ahead it will overshadow the single most wild vista in all of mainland Britain, the magnificent sweep of Rannoch Moor and the mountains ringing it, including Ben Nevis."

'And in a recent article in the Guardian, Philip Stott, professor emeritus of geography at London University, wrote: "Onshore wind power doesn't deliver the environmental benefits it promises and yet it carries substantial environmental costs. Promoting wind farms over other forms of energy generation will surely prove to be a most costly blunder. It is time to roar out against this crass industrialisation of our countryside and our last remaining wilderness."

'However, director of Friends of the Earth and wind farm supporter Tony Juniper says that the opponents of renewables are parochial and shortsighted. "Climate change is the world's most pressing environmental problem and the anti-lobby, helped by nuclear interests, is trying to undermine Britain's role as a leader in tackling it and to fatally delay action," he said. "Wind is the most advanced of all the renewable technologies but it needs to be followed quickly by solar, wave, tidal, biomass and others. No one is arguing that wind generators should cover all the national parks. That would be mad. The landscape can and must be protected."

'But that does not seem to be happening. The Whinash development threatens those who live in the lovely Borrowdale Valley, near Tebay. Similarly the local community of Ullapool in Wester Ross were of the opinion that the quality of the landscape surrounding them would be sacrosanct from such developments but they were wrong. Scottish and Southern Energy plan to run an interconnector cable under the sea from wind farm developments on the Isle of Lewis. The cable is to come ashore just off Ardmair Bay, a notable beauty spot, from where 50-metre high power lines will carry it via the Dirrie Mor and Fannichs to Beauly, where it would join another giant grid to run south as far as Denny in Stirlingshire.

'At the time of going to press there is already active consideration of wind farm projects by the Assynt crofters, the Durness crofters, and landowners in Strathconan and Glen Luichart. Indeed, we could probably fill the magazine with all the other developments that have been proposed for areas of outstanding scenic value.