Dixie Dean, writing about the development of wind farms on the peatlands of the Dava Moor (‘Tests for approval of wind farms“, in ‘The Northern Scot’ of May 2) warns of increased flooding and water pollution along with damage to tourism and whisky interests.
His alert to the harmful industrialisation of this area is timely: a developer’s application for a wind farm on peatland within the Findhorn catchment and Dava Moor area is now on public view in the Elgin Town Hall and Forres Library.
The public has until May 30 to lodge objections.
The Berryburn development is the most easterly of an accumulation of seven wind farms planned for construction in the magnificent Findhorn catchment and Dava Moor area, covering Moray and Nairn. The application by the developers to construct 29 turbines each over 300 feet high and occupying some 20 sq km on the Altyre Moor south of Forres, was approved by the Moray Council several years ago. It is yet to be approved by the Scottish Government, and should be rejected.
The approval of Berryburn would virtually empower the Highland Council/Nairn to complete the industrialisation of the Findhorn catchment and Dava Moor with close to 90 additional turbines on six wind farms, each supported by miles of access roads, culverts, quarries, pylons and extensive peatland drainage. The end result would be the virtual elimination of the prime reason visitors come north: to experience unspoiled landscape.
There are sound socio-economic and environmental reasons why the industrialisation of the Findhorn catchment and Dava Moor must be rejected by the Scottish Government.
First, the Scottish Government’s report on “The economic impacts of wind farms on Scottish tourism” sets out new guidelines for planning authorities to ensure the compatibility of wind farms with tourism. Numbers of wind farms should not “occur in the same general area”, i.e. accumulations of wind farms are to be avoided; numbers of wind farms “in sight at any point” be avoided; the tourism industry and wind farm developers work together “to protect certain areas from development” such as “national parks and national scenic areas”, including, presumably, areas of Great Landscape Value; wind farms avoid areas where there are tourists travelling past; the views of local tourist businesses be sought; developers produce tourist impact statements as part of the environmental impact statement.
Welcome as these tests for wind farm/tourism compatibility are, not one of the seven wind farms, including Berryburn, being considered by local authority planners for development in the catchment area of the River Findhorn and the Dava Moor, will pass a single test. All seven wind farms are in “the same general area”, an unprecedented accumulation in Scotland; all seven wind farms will be “in sight” from most of the surrounding area, including the Cairngorms National Park and its famous Ptarmigan restaurant; all seven wind farms will be developed mostly in, or adjacent to, an area designated by the Highland Council as being of Great Landscape Value; all seven wind farms are in an area straddled by key tourist-bearing roads – A940, A939, B9007; the views of local tourist businesses on any of the wind farms have not been sought; not one developer has produced a tourism economic impact statement.
Along with Berryburn, in fact, none of the wind farms proposed for the Findhorn catchment satisfies the Government’s own tests for wind farm/tourism compatibility. All applications as currently conceived should accordingly be refused.
Second, it is an offence under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 2003 to knowingly “disturb any spawning bed or any bank or shallow in which the spawn of salmon may be”. Given that the developer is aware that the Berryburn is a spawning tributary of the Divie River and the Findhorn, and that the developer cannot guarantee that the extensive development-drainage of the peat-laden Berryburn site will not disturb/affect the burn, the application must be refused on precautionary grounds to avoid the risk of committing an offence against the Act.
Third, the Scottish Government’s proposals for a new Flooding Bill shifts the emphasis to a “catchment focused approach to managing flood risks”. Given that heavy rainfall events have increased significantly” as a result of climate change, and that the seven wind farms, all in the catchment area, can only be developed after significant drainage operations of the peat-based moorland, the Scottish Government will find that it cannot promote “catchment focused flood risk management” while approving massive wind farm-related drainage schemes in the Findhorn catchment.
Accordingly, the Scottish Government must apply the precautionary principle and refuse the Berryburn application if the risk of flooding is not to be increased in the Findhorn catchment and Dava Moor.
Numerous other objections can be found on the Save Our Moray site (www.sosmoray.org.uk), or objections can be sent direct to: Paul Smith, The Scottish Government, Consents and Energy Unit, 5 Cadogan Street, Glasgow, G2 6AT.
Objections must be in by May 30.
There is a more simple solution. Moray and Highland councils accord the same level of protection to the Findhorn catchment and Dava Moor as accorded the adjacent Cairngorms National Park. The councils instead should support the Scottish Government’s laudable aim for a low-carbon economy as set out in the Scottish Budget Review 2007, ‘Chapter Seven: A Greener Scotland’. – Yours etc,
James Stuart, Dunphail.
9 May 2008
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