Back in January 2007, Alex Salmond was unequivocal: “There is a real difficulty with public acceptance of onshore wind.” “There should be a cap on future developments.” “We should concentrate the development of onshore wind into suitable areas.”
He went to say that financial support for onshore wind farms should be looked at again as there was a danger onshore wind developers were getting too much financial support. Of course, all that was done to help the SNP get elected and gain votes in areas where there was rising opposition to wind farms.
This week the First Minister said Scotland was on the brink of a renewables revolution as he gave the go-ahead for the largest wind farm in Europe. He told the World Renewable Energy Congress in Glasgow that his government had given the green light to a 152-turbine project in South Lanarkshire. The chairman of the congress hailed Mr Salmond as the “saint of renewable energy”.
This volte face from Mr Salmond is not totally unexpected; he is, after all, a politician. But such is the courting of the Scottish Government by the renewables industry that even I’m staggered by the complete change in attitude. Does he not understand that wind turbines are inefficient and make little money for Scotland – other than for the landowners and the renewable companies, which are often foreign owned?
By Duns, Berwickshire
Scotland has won the natural lottery, claims Alex Salmond describing our renewable energy resources (your report, 21 July). Yet will he come to regret his choice of words? The SNP policy which will make Scotland’s energy supply dependent on unreliable wind farms may prove a reckless gamble with the odds heavily stacked against success. Wind energy has proven to be a liability in other countries, where wind-generated electricity is exported at a financial loss, and has failed to lessen dependence on fossil fuel.
In the UK, wind energy will cost £6 billion annually. This is equivalent to 40 National Lottery jackpots each and every week. Much of this cost will be passed on to the long-suffering electricity consumer. Consequently, it would have been more accurate for Mr Salmond to have stated that “energy firms have won the natural lottery”.
During the last UK general election, Alex Salmond told BBC Radio 4 listeners he did not want to see Scotland blanketed with wind farms. When subsequently campaigning for election to the Scottish Parliament, he assured me, as a constituent, that this remained SNP policy. He added that he was in favour of onshore wind farms only if they brought direct community benefit.
How is this to be reconciled with approving the largest wind farm in Europe, in total disregard of the affected local communities, as pointed out by Ralph Barker (Letters, 24 July)?
(DR) RHONA NEWMAN
I ventured up the M9 last week, Wednesday, in fact, a windy day, and lo and behold as I crested the rise after the roundabout at Dunblane, not a windmill working.
Who is kidding who here? How often does it have to be said, the damn things only work when the wind blows at the right speed from the right direction. Can Saint Alex guarantee that 24/7, 365 days a year? I don’t think so.
24 July 2008