Europe’s largest wind farm, being built at Abington and Crawford (your report, 22 July), is big news, but little is said about the fight by local people to prevent wind farms being built over the Southern Uplands.
South Lanarkshire Council had also decided these hills should be protected from wind farms and made large alternative areas elsewhere in South Lanarkshire available for wind farm applications. The Scottish Government has ignored all this and considers the Southern Uplands landscape to be of no value.
If we are to have 150 turbines spoiling the hills for generations we may as well have 1,500 or 15,000, although it is unlikely that electricity consumers could afford to pay for them, especially if England and Scotland were to be separate markets.
Already, a massive electricity booster station has spoilt the lower part of the Elvan Valley in readiness to transmit power southwards. The local people who fought hardest against the wind farm have already sold up and gone before it became more difficult to sell.
The wind farm will cause a lot of environmental damage. Our communities are neglected as it is. The energy company has certainly not given me any confidence that funds will be available to improve the infrastructure of communities which will be adversely affected.
Could I expect the Cheshire cats at the Scottish Government to make moves to direct funds to the environment of those communities they have decided to disadvantage?
It is with mixed feelings I observe Alex Salmond, our First Minister, proudly announcing yet another big step towards achieving the target of half of Scotland’s electricity coming from renewable energy by 2020. This rush to cover the country with wind farms seems to ignore the fact that Scotland’s biggest draw is its landscapes. The balance between renewable energy and landscape degradation would seem to be biased towards the former in the push to meet government targets.
These schemes undoubtedly consume millions in subsidies. Similar investment in the tourist industry could easily produce similar returns and probably provide more sustainable long-term employment.
Other numerous smaller “green” initiatives could add up to an equally meaningful impact. For example making life safer for cyclists commuting to work, and other methods to encourage people to leave their cars at home. As for encouraging “green” tourism, the fact that trains can take, typically, only four bicycles borders on the absurd. The French had this sorted decades ago. Why can’t we?
By agreeing to the development of a huge wind-farm in the Clyde Valley, this so-called government will ravage the soft beauty of the Upper Clyde and the Lowther Hills in the same way it is destroying the beauty of the Lammermuirs and the Borders. And, as your editorial points out (22 July), to no significant purpose; English coal-fired and nuclear power stations will have to supply power when the wind is too weak or too strong.
The amount of employment generated will be tiny, and will disappear completely when the last turbine is commissioned. The only beneficiaries will be a few businessmen, a few undeserving lairds and the Forestry Commission.
Scots everywhere will soon understand the extent of Scotland’s betrayal by these decisions.
(HIS HON) W H R CRAWFORD
23 July 2008
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