Has the world gone mad? For the last 12 years my family and I have driven 636 miles to enjoy a week’s holiday in Caithness.
With three young children aboard, as many of your readers will appreciate, this in itself is no mean feat and they may wonder why we do it. But then, many of us in Cambridgeshire wonder why anyone bothers to visit us; after all its just the place we live in, nothing special here, is there? But it’s a truism that most of us rarely see what’s right beneath our noses.
In the case of Caithness, as visitors, we see an unparalleled opportunity to visit long golden beaches free of amusement arcades, funfairs and unspoilt by hordes of like-minded folk.
We see an opportunity to escape from the hustle and bustle that passes for life here in Cambridgeshire and the associated daily commute to London.
We see an area where time is treated as an important commodity, not to be rushed and wasted but enjoyed and fulfilled. And where else can such a wide range of interests from natural history to archaeology be enjoyed whilst, as parents, we do not feel the need to constantly look over our shoulders to ensure our children are safe and secure?
Sadly, though, I fear these times are fast coming to an end. Year on year we have become more and more concerned with the news that Caithness is attracting those wishing to invest in wind farms.
I appreciate those leasing the land that these will be built upon will reap financial benefit, and those investing in them will turn a handsome profit. That’s a fact of life. However, beyond those two groups, who else locally will benefit?
Are the investors themselves going to live in Caithness and put their money back into the local community? Are the landowners going to spend their money locally and ensure others prosper from their good fortune? Have pigs sprouted wings and learnt to fly? Of course not.
It’s unlikely that the investors will want to live amongst the monstrous eyesores they have helped to create. At best they’ll be spending their money down south, so thanks for that, but more likely abroad.
The local landowners may sow the wind but they in turn will reap the whirlwind.
Yes, they’ll enjoy a better standard of living from their financial gain but will it be sufficient to compensate the shopkeeper, the publican and the hotelier whose livelihood may collapse if tourists stop visiting? I doubt it.
And the tourists will stop coming, sure as eggs are eggs. I for one have no intention of driving all that way to see a landscape reminiscent of H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds, where mechanical monsters bestride the countryside destroying all that stands in their way.
If I want to see such a spectacle I can drive 10 miles down the road, look out the car window, turn round and be home in time for tea, not having spent so much as a groat, and I’m not the only one I’m sure; 636 miles ““ no thanks.
If Caithness wants to have wind turbines rather than tourists then good luck and goodbye. But I urge your readers to think carefully. Before you make your bed, be sure that you are prepared to lie in it. Because once those turbines are in place it will be no use throwing up your arms in horror claiming you didn’t know what would happen. The writing’s on the wall, and the wall is that of a wind turbine!
Angus Ballantine, 21 Flamsteed Drive, Huntingdon, Cambs
John O’Groat Journal
18 May 2007
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