We add our support to all who believe that the government should not approve the proposed Lewis wind power development. The impact of such a development on landscape, wildlife and community interests would not be justified.
We believe it is time for the Scottish Government to address some fundamental questions over Scotland’s energy strategy. There are increasing doubts as to whether further large-scale wind farm projects should be approved before such a national energy strategy has been produced – given the extent of existing approvals and the increasing difficulty of accommodating further massive turbines within the Scottish landscape. That landscape is a resource of outstanding value to outdoor recreation, tourism and the wider economy.
Few people realise how many wind farm projects have already been approved but have not yet appeared on our landscape. For example, three separate projects are going ahead in the Ochils, the hill range between Stirling and Perth. When completed, 43 turbines, all over 100m tall, will appear across 12 miles of these hills. Across Scotland as a whole, 770 turbines are now operating, with a further 918 approved. So existing approvals mean that our landscape already has to accommodate at least double the number of turbines already on the hills. Scotland has already met its 2010 target for electricity generation from renewables and is 66% of the way to the 2020 target of 50% of electricity coming from renewable sources.
The government has time to pause before granting any more wind farm approvals, to ask whether it simply wants to carry on the policies of previous governments, or whether it wants to demonstrate a better way forward for wind energy development.
New criteria, set by the government, are needed to define the type of landscape within which modern turbines can be accommodated, along with height limits. We cannot depend on simply excluding such large industrial structures from the areas designated for their wildlife and landscape value and their surrounding mountains and moorlands. A new approach is needed in which a world-class energy policy has due regard for a world-class landscape, throughout Scotland.
Dick Balharry, chairman, John Muir Trust; Peter Bickmore-Dundas, vice-convener, Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland; Alistair Cant, Convenor, Scottish Wild Land Group; Chris Townsend, president, Mountaineering Council of Scotland; Dennis Canavan, president, Ramblers’ Association Scotland, Kingfisher House, Milnathort, Kinross.
13 February 2008
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