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Wind farms will destroy our landscape

Last week First Minister Alex Salmond declared that Executive approval of the Clyde wind farm signalled Scotland’s self-appointment as Europe’s “green capital”.

We are all well used to Mr Salmond’s crass and so often ill-informed political antics, but this particular manifestation of his abject surrender to the eco-fundamentalist lobby takes the biscuit.

But, forget the politics; lets look at the facts and figures: 152 turbines, each 406 feet high, will straddle the M74 at Abington – giving North-bound tourists a foretaste of the rape of Scotland’s countryside by wind farms.

The total area of the Clyde wind power station is 4740 hectares; that is 47.4 square kilometres or 18.3 square miles. Construction will require 41 borrow pits (quarries) to extract stone for road making. The site will be contaminated with over 150,000 tonnes of reinforced concrete turbine tower foundations. Many miles of access roads will scar the landscape, and immense networks of underground cable tracks will disturb natural drainage.

The environmental damage will be incalculable. Worse, it will be substantially irreversible when decommissioning-time comes along. What can you do with 150,000 or so tonnes of redundant reinforced concrete turbine tower foundation pads?

Technically, the planned installed capacity of Clyde is 548 mega-watts which, with an optimistic 30 per cent load factor is likely to produce an average of around 165 megawatts generating 1.45 million megawatt hours per year attracting, at current prices, and annual subsidy paid for by consumers of around £78 million.

And, of course, wind intermittency will ensure that all normal coal, gas, and nuclear power generation will be kept running regardless.

In 2007 the UK wind power industry received around £450 million in consumer-paid subsidies, predicted to rise to £1bn by 2010-11, with every wind generated mega-watt hour (MWh) of electricity costing the consumer around £57 in subsidy. And it doesn’t stop there! Wind generated electricity is sold for around £50 per MWh making it double the cost of power from normal sources.

The abject and extortionate dishonesty of this system beggars belief, particularly at a time when over five million UK households are quoted as suffering from fuel poverty. Surely this subsidy-money would be better spent on a comprehensive programme of Scandinavian-specification home insulation to reduce heating bills instead of lining the pockets of mostly foreign developers.

By John Hogg

Forres Gazette

30 July 2008