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Look to sea for energy alternatives  

The cumulative impact of five proposed wind farms on Dava Moor – an area of stark beauty – will be devastating, according to the protestors. We agree.

There is, of course, the obvious visual intrusion of around 130 wind turbines as much as 140 metres in height; an estimated 30 miles of new roads and tracks and, of course, giant pylons to take the power to the National Grid.

But there are other impacts not quite so visible to the naked eye, but equally important, that need to be considered when the applications come forward.

Most of the area in question is covered by deep blanket bog, with peat up to four metres deep, much of which is over 2,000 years old.

The wind farms will require massive excavation of this ultra-sensitive and increasingly rare area, with consequent disturbance to the fragile ecosystem and hydrology, including the release of damaging gases to the environment.

Dava Moor is also an invaluable wildlife corridor, running from the River Spey to the River Findhorn, for a huge array of bird life which will be vulnerable to the wind turbines.

Capercaillies, golden eagles, ospreys, buzzards, red throated divers, lapwings and skylarks could all be put at risk by these huge windfarm developments.

There is already a presumption against large-scale renewable energy projects being constructed in the Cairngorms National Park – albeit one that has not yet been tested by any would-be developers.

But it’s not just the national park that needs protecting from potentially damaging schemes in tourism and environmental terms constructed in the name of green energy; its borders are under threat.

The intention of the national park legislation was never to create a ring of industry around one of the country’s most prized assets. The mass of turbines would also be visible from within the national park, so their impact would extend well beyond Dava Moor itself.

The SNP Scottish Executive needs to reassess the renewable energy policies of the previous Labou-led administraton to bring an end to the land-grab that has ensued around Dava Moor and elsewhere in the Highlands.

Increasingly, policy-makers need to look to sea.

Off-shore windfarms, tidal power schemes and subsea transmission have a much greater role to play than has been the case thus far in meeting Scotland’s tough future green energy targets.

The costs need to be borne from the large windfall profits of the power firms – not fragile landscapes and the communities that depend on them.

Strathspey & Badenoch Herald

29 August 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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