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Local concerns aired at Merranblo Inquiry  

A windfarm at Merranblo would ‘ruin’ one of the wildest places in Britain, it was claimed on day seven of the public inquiry into the project.

Orkney Skyline Concern representative Colin Kirkpatrick asked the inquiry to take into account the potential impact on the coastline between Yesnaby and Stromness.

This was an area that had been captured on canvas and film by leading artists like Stanley Cursiter and that continued to inspire new generations of creative Orcadians, Mr Kirkpatrick said.

The wildness of the area was crucial to its attraction, he told the proceedings.

It was one of the wildest places in the UK, a place to escape from the hand of man and the stresses and strains of modern life.

“Many local people walk from Skaill or Yesnaby to Stromness regularly and the whole magic of the wild atmosphere of that walk would be ruined in an instant as you round the corner at Neban Point and see three 67 metre … metal structures churning away,” he said.

Mr Kirkpatrick said the people of Stromness, and the wider Orcadian community, had been poorly consulted about the windfarm project.

“The developers have repeatedly failed in their original promise of true community benefit,” he added.

Archaeologist Caroline Wickham-Jones, giving evidence for Orkney Archaeological Trust, described the importance of the skyline to the siting of the monuments when they were built in the Neolithic period.

“The wider context of the Neolithic landscape is vital to understanding how the monuments worked,” she told the inquiry.

“Visitors today value the open, natural, setting of these sites. Comparison with Stonehenge is often made, with many visitors commenting that they prefer the lack of development in the Orkney landscape.”

Ms Wickham-Jones said the windfarm – and any further wind developments in the area – could put Orkney’s World Heritage designation at risk.

This would be a rare event in the developed world, she added.

Orkney Today

31 January 2008

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