Concerns about the negative impact of wind farms on Scotland’s rural landscape have generally been limited to the visual intrusion of the turbines.
Few observers have considered wider consequences, such as the environmental problems created by the associated demand for sand and gravel.
The small community of Braco in south Perthshire is currently threatened with the prospect of large-scale mineral working on its doorstep arising indirectly from the construction of the Braes of Doune wind farm. In order to improve the access road to the wind farm, Scottish and Southern Energy extracted material from an existing borrow pit and then passed the site on for restoration. The restorer subsequently applied for planning permission to expand sand and gravel extraction into an adjacent area and has already installed processing machinery alongside other infrastructure. In total, he controls some 370 acres that are clearly at risk from future applications for mineral working.
The site in question is right on the edge of the village. It already creates noise pollution and a significant loss of visual amenity for the primary school, church and community hall, as well as many residents. Full-scale working, and the related lorry traffic, would create major impacts and road-safety issues.
Within a radius of a few hundred metres of the site, there is a rich natural and cultural heritage, including a salmon fishing river, a scenic circular walk found in national guidebooks, several listed buildings plus the important Roman fort at Ardoch with its surrounding archaeological legacy.
Local opposition to this development is very strong. The planning application has yet to be considered by Perth and Kinross Council, but the situation clearly shows how the generation of “green” energy may stimulate other commercial activities and create unwelcome environmental damage in the Scottish countryside.
Professor Keith Smith, 11 Grinnan Road, Braco, Perthshire
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