Inverness-Shire windfarm campaigners are taking to the air to protest about giant turbines planned for woods near their homes.
A large red balloon, known as a blimp, will be flown at turbine tower height to illustrate the impact they will have on the community.
The unusual protest, thought to be a first, is in response to Druim Ba Sustainable Energy’s planning application for 23 turbines, each 490ft high, at Blairmore Forest, near Kiltarlity and Abriachan.
Operation Blimp is being organised by Druimba-Sayno Action Group “to demonstrate to concerned local residents, the public, councillors and politicians how monstrous this development is and how adversely it will impact on the wider area and people’s lives”.
It cost £850 to bring the blimp to the village – raised by the group in two days through public donations.
The protest will take off between next Monday and Saturday, April 16, between 11am and 7pm, allowing for weather conditions.
The protesters’ website www.druimba-sayno.com will be updated when the balloon goes up.
Protest group Spokeswoman Lyndsey Ward said the blimp had never been flown at such a height before.
She added: “I think it’s going to be a shocker. If you can see the blimp from your home then you will be able to see the turbines.
“We were refused permission to fly it from the site, but a friendly farmer is allowing us on to land adjacent.”
Ms Ward, of Breakachy, near Beauly, added that the group had to obtain approval from the Civil Aviation Authority to fly the blimp.
News of the protest came as windfarm industry watchers claimed jobs will be lost due to the £100billion expected cost of subsidising onshore UK windfarms up to 2030.
According to calculations based on data from the EU and the industry regulator Ofgem, current subsidies equate to £54,000 for each full-time wind industry employee in 2009.
The efficiency of Scotland’s monitored onshore turbines last year, however, was claimed to be just 22%.
Critics of onshore windfarms meeting in the Highlands renewed their demand for a UK and Scottish Government moratorium on the technology, arguing it has proven economic nonsense.
John Constable, policy and research director of the London-based Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), told a 55-strong audience at the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness: “The cost of distorting the market to support renewables may cause contraction in other areas of the economy and, thus, net job losses.
“The money has to come from somewhere in the economy which needs taxes to fund it. That tax will reduce economic activity and make it harder for people to reinvest, to maintain jobs and create new ones elsewhere in the system.”
He said the bill for subsidies, in the form of Renewables Obligation Certificates to UK electricity customers in 2009-10 was £1.1billion for just 6.6% of UK electricity production, compared with £278million in 2002-03. And he warned the bill would continue to increase.
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