Road rage over convoys; Communities fear windfarm HGVs will damage tourism
Credit: By Iain Ramage, The Herald, 14 March 2011 ~~
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This summer’s tourist season in the heart of Highland Perthshire could be blown away by gridlock caused by hundreds of convoys of huge trucks laden with parts for a major windfarm, according to local business people.
The first load bound for Scottish and Southern Energy’s 68turbine Griffin scheme, at Amulree in the Sma’ Glen near Crieff, will today trundle up the A9 and onto the narrow, winding A822 to the site.
For the next eight months, vast HGVs will make daily trips from Rosyth, travelling along some of Scotland’s busiest holiday routes.
It is an issue that has inflamed communities across the country as the proliferation of windfarms continues. Businesses in Dunkeld warn the convoys will block the A822 westwards for “an hour or more each time” and push traffic on to other busy routes.
While SSE agreed to build three passing places on the 10mile stretch of the A822, some residents have described liaison meetings as “a sham” despite the intervention of SNP MSP John Swinney.
Helen Taylor, of the Amulree and Strathbraan Windfarm Action Group, said: “A major through-route from Crieff to Dunkeld has been closed for six months while SSE carried out dramatic alterations underneath a bridge on the main railway line from Perth to Inverness, just so they could get the turbines through. Now, SSE has revealed that rather than the expected one escorted convoy of abnormal loads, they want to bring up two.”
Charlie Cameron, who owns Scottish Quads at Tomnagrew Farm, said: “I could just about cope with one period in the day when I could not take guest bookings, but two would be a disaster. As Saturdays are my busiest, any convoys after 8am or before 5pm would be a catastrophe.”
Ann Lindsay, who operates self-catering units beside her home at Trochry, sought Mr Swinney’s help, fearing her business would be blighted by travel chaos.
Echoing that, Dunkeld and Birnam Community Council chairwoman Nan Johnston claimed SSE had not taken residents’ concerns seriously.
“I am worried about road safety on the A9. At the junction with the A822 there have been eight incidents in the last year,” she said. “If drivers get frustrated by slow-moving abnormal loads there will be the temptation to try to make up time once they get past and we don’t want more carnage on the A9 as a result of this.”
A local liaison group is continuing to petition Perth and Kinross Council and Scottish ministers to review the timing of convoys. SSE confirmed that each convoy will comprise up to three abnormal load vehicles, police outriders and a convoy escort vehicle.
Spokesman Julian Reeves said: “There will be one delivery today and tomorrow, and two on Wednesday – one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
“Immediately following the Wednesday runs there will be an operational debrief between our contractors and the police to review the load movements.”
SSE aims to increase the convoys to two a day from next Monday, March 21, but has still to finalise a schedule.
Mr Reeves added: “We have met with representatives from local businesses and the community and understand their concerns. We understand some people’s frustration that not everyone’s requests for specific times or days to be avoided can be accommodated.”
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