Environment watchdogs Scottish National Heritage have been accused of a “dereliction of duty” by not objecting to controversial multi-million pound plans for two “industrial-scale” turbines in Highland Perthshire.
And Jill Wilson, chairperson of the Amulree and Strathbraan Windfarm Action Group (ASWAG), branded that omission “a dereliction of duty,” at an ongoing public inquiry.
She also claimed that the developers ““ GreenPower and I&H Brown ““ were proposing to “desecrate and abuse” the landscape with the giant turbines.
The inquiry, being held in Amulree Public Hall, was triggered after Perth and Kinross Council rejected GreenPower’s plans for 68 turbines at Griffin Forest, near Dunkeld. They also vetoed the I&H Brown proposals for 27 turbines at Calliacher, near Aberfeldy.
Mrs Wilson told the inquiry: “I am giving this evidence here before you because I love this area. I care about our environment and I understand we have to look after the world in which we live.
“I also love the people who live in this community. We are not vulnerable receptors in a few scattered homesteads but a thriving and growing community made up of human beings.
“These developers are proposing to desecrate and abuse our landscape. They have already desecrated and abused our lives. They are using the very real threats to our world as an excuse to make money. This is a travesty of our trust,” she declared.
She pointed out that there was no mains water in the area and the entire community was completely reliant on private supplies in order to live there.
The Camphill Community for handicapped young adults recently spent in the order of £100,000 to pump water from the River Braan. All other households in the area have private springs or boreholes, apart from Glenfender Cottage, which takes water from the Fender Burn.
ASWAG were concerned at the effects on these supplies, particularly during the construction period of the turbines, as I&H Brown hadn’t identified the locations of all the springs of local residents in Glenquaich.
Nor had GreenPower considered how the five quarries in the Griffin development would affect private supplies and water courses.
She added: “GreenPower have sent letters to some people that should it be deemed their water supply had been affected by the proposed windfarm, they would replace it.
“They do not know if this would even be possible. In order for us to prove liability would involve lengthy and expensive litigation. Fresh clean water is a basic human right and one we cannot live without.”
She pointed out that Scottish Natural Heritage’s remit is “Working with Scotland’s people to care for the natural environment.”
But the chairperson blasted: “They have done neither. Both SNH and the developers have largely ignored the fact that the National Scenic Area of Dunkeld lies within three kilometres of Griffin and the National Tourist Route runs between both sites.”
SNH were so concerned of the “real threat of pollution” and impact on water from Griffin that they had demanded a full time environmental officer. They also wanted a reduction in height of several of the turbines.
But Mrs Wilson pointed out: “The planning application before them is as it stands. As they do not accept either, they should have objected to both schemes. This dereliction of duty by SNH is a national disgrace.”
Road safety and noise issues were highlighted by the ASWAG chairman and she also challenged the figures produced by GreenPower relating to the number of homes that could be supplied with electricity from the development ““ and the tonnes of greenhouse gases that would be saved.
“These windfarm proposals will cause desecration of the land, with 100,000 tons of concrete poured into the earth never to be removed. Quarrying and blasting of the hills would be widespread. Disturbance and destruction to the fragile ecology of this area would be inevitable.
“Many miles of new roads would be forced across the hills. The developments threaten to destroy protected birds, wildlife and water sources.”
She concluded: “We should not have to answer to Greenpower or I&H Brown in order to live here. This is untenable.
“This community has lived for the last two-and-a-half years with the threat of these industrial sites being built and many will suffer for the rest of their lives if they are constructed.
“We seek to protect this area for future generations. More than a hundred years ago the communities in these glens were driven out by the greed of a few. Have we learnt nothing from the past?
“The future of our area and the people who live here is in your hands,” she told inquiry Reporter David Russell. “I beg you to choose to recommend rejection of these planning applications.”
The inquiry continues.
By Les Stewart
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