The skyline above the Callanish stones could be transformed into an industrial site. The Public Inquiry has opened into a 53 wind turbines wind development, each 125m high, proposed by Beinn Mhor Power for the Eisgein Estate that would both intrude into a designated National Scenic Area and be clearly visible along a ridgeline from the Callanish stones.
“The setting at Callanish is as much part of the experience for visitors as the stones themselves“, commented Helen McDade, Head of Policy for the John Muir Trust. “It is ludicrous that the government would even entertain the idea of marching turbines across such a world class landscape.”
According to research by the professional Archaeologist Ian McHardy, the proposed location for the wind development has a long historical association with the Callanish stones. Eight turbines will break the skyline on a range of hills known as the Cailleach na Mointeach (the Old Woman of the Moors). The name comes from the distinctive ridge line which resembles a sleeping woman.
The lunar cycle links the Cailleach na Mointeach with Callanish. When viewed from Callanish the Old Woman of the Moors appears to give birth to the moon every 18.6 years when it skims from between her knees and along her body on its southern-most trajectory. When it is due south the moon is perfectly framed in the avenue of standing stones at Callanish.
There are even archaeological links between the The Cailleach na Mointeach and Calanais. The recent discovery of what could well be a kerbed cairn on the site of the development is similar to the Neolithic tomb at the centre of the Callanish stones. It is distinctly possible that they were built by the same people at the same time.
“The Cailleach na Mointeach and its lunar phenomenon are described in the official Historic Scotland guide book and the hills are depicted on an interpretation panel at Callanish, making it an integral part of the visitors experience,” commented Ian McHardy.
The John Muir Trust is convinced that the short term economic benefits from the Eisgein proposal are far outweighed by the damage that this development could do to a world famous tourist attraction. In 2007, over 20,000 people travelled to Callanish and the number of visitors to heritage sites in Scotland increased by 62,000 or 3.2%. In a recent Government internet survey into the potential impact of wind developments on the tourist industry, 17.8% said that they would not visit an area if they knew there was a wind farm.
“Scotland can easily meet its 50% renewable target by 2020 without encroaching on designated areas of national importance such as this one.” concluded Helen McDade. “This proposal would degrade both our cultural and our natural heritage and should be rejected in line with stated government policy. Callanish is Scotland’s equivalent of Stonehenge and must be left unscathed by industrial development so that it can be fully appreciated by future generations.”
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