Objectors to the Mull Hill wind farm plans recently heard arguments which they said give their campaign weight.
As many as 70 people attended a recent meeting at Fowlis Wester Village Hall, held by the Sma’ Glen Protection Group 2 (SGPG2).
Speaking at the meeting were Murdo Fraser MSP and Professor Iain MacLeod, chairman of the Energy Strategy Group of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland (IESIS).
During the meeting, Professor MacLeod argued that wind power does not support any of the main government policy objectives for electricity generation, due to weather issues causing a lack of wind over the UK, the cost of a wind farm and intermittency causing carbon emissions.
A spokesperson for the group, who heard Prof MacLeod speak, explained: “Firstly, in relation to security of supply, wind power has to be largely ignored when planning for generation capacity to meet peak demand. This is because lowest winter temperatures often coincide with an area of high pressure over the whole country with very little wind anywhere in the UK.
“Secondly in relation to cost, estimates indicate that, very roughly, the three main sources of power from thermal generators – coal, gas and nuclear – all have similar costs. However the cost of onshore wind may be greater by a factor of three and offshore wind by a factor of four.
“Thirdly, while there are no carbon emissions at wind generators, the intermittency of the power input from wind to the Grid requires thermal generators to be run inefficiently causing more carbon dioxide to be produced by the system than under normal operation.”
MSP Murdo Fraser, who also chairs the economy, energy and tourism committee at Holyrood, claimed: “Too many families in Scotland today are facing fuel poverty, and if we were to go down the route of more and more wind farms, which is the policy of the SNP government, fuel poverty will become a reality for many more.
“I find this unacceptable, particularly when the profits are going too often to foreign companies, as well as large landowners.
“The Sma’ Glen is a very beautiful area and it deserves to be protected. Tourism is very important in this area, and the beauty of the landscape is what they come to see.”
He was also critical of the planning system in Scotland which favours wind farm development, without giving enough weight to the concerns of those who oppose them.
Mike Travers, a power systems engineer, also contributed during the meeting.
He claimed that if it was not for the stealth tax for subsidies on electricity bills “no-one would build wind turbines to produce electricity”.
After the meeting, chairman of SGPG2, Maureen Beaumont, said: “It was good that so many people wanted to listen to the professor and to Murdo Fraser.
“The professor had a completely different view of wind farms from that given by the applicants. It seems that in many ways Force 9’s figures simply do not add up. The rosy picture that Force 9 and Abercairny Estate are promoting makes it all sound so wonderful.”
Strathearn Councillor Ann Cowan, who is a member of the Sma’ Glen Protection Group, said afterwards that she felt the meeting went well.
She added: “The more one learns about wind farms the more concerned I am at the policy of the Scottish Government, which is to have more and ever larger turbines covering our beautiful mountains and hills.
“If only it was doing some good, but it quite evidently is not. Every family in the country is paying for this folly through our electricity bills, and so are Scottish businesses.
“There has to be a re-think, and soon.”
Andrew Smith, from Force 9 Energy, responded to some of the claims made at the meeting.
He explained: “When electricity is generated from wind power in Scotland no carbon dioxide is emitted and it remains the most economic and reliable source of low-carbon energy.”
He continued: “The Mull Hill wind farm will not be seen from the Sma’ Glen. This is a very important point and any suggestion that this is not the case is misleading and untrue.
“Furthermore, the Mull Hill proposal would not be seen from within the Highland landscape character area, does not step up and across different landscape areas and it is substantially screened in views from much of Strathearn by the Knock of Crieff.
“There is no evidence to suggest that tourism is affected by wind farms in Scotland.”
He also refuted claims that the taxpayer paid for wind farms.
“Wind farms are not subsidised by the taxpayer. A recent report for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), carried out by Mott Macdonald, showed that wind is already cheaper than coal by a penny per unit. Furthermore, the latest report carried out for DECC by the same company predicts that by 2030 electricity from onshore wind farms will cost at most 8.5p per unit, compared to 15p for coal.”
“Nuclear power stations on the other hand receive huge subsidiaries from the government to be built, and require ever more taxpayers’ money to decommission, and we’re talking billions here.”
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