As Angus stands hesitantly on the threshold of a wind energy boom, the cumulative impact of turbines on its landscape has been questioned.
The county is entering a period in which the number of applications for single and multi-turbine developments has reached a near-exponential rate.
The problem seems to be one of balance – protecting Scotland’s natural bounty while providing for a future with dwindling resources and spiralling energy costs.
As topography is important to the human eye as well as wind turbines, The Courier asked an Angus man to give a true ”artist’s impression” of the scenery he feels is threatened by a proposed development.
Brechin artist David Adam frequently draws on the landscape of Glen Lethnot and the area around Nathro Hill, the site of a proposed 17-turbine development on the Careston Estate.
He believes the Angus Glens constitute a unique landscape area in Scotland, forming ”a beautiful link” from the lowlands of the Strathmore valley to the Cairngorms National Park.
”As an artist that works outdoors on the Angus hills, I value every inch of the visual beauty in the landscape before me,” he said.
”And when that is chiselled away by wind turbines or newly-bulldozed hill tracks, we all lose a bit of that natural calm that we should seek as a right of living in Scotland.”
Eurowind UK Ltd announced proposals for 17 turbines at Nathro Hill in December.
Angus councillors will this week be asked to note Nathro Hill Wind Farm Ltd’s recent submission of its plans to the Scottish Government.
The company, which was set up to make Eurowind’s application, proposes what it describes as a ”significant” community benefit investment for the area, should consent be given.
This equates to £3,500 per megawatt, or more than £200,000 per year, depending on final installed capacity.
The proposed windfarm would have a height of up to 135 metres, with each turbine able to generate up to 3.5 megawatts, giving a maximum capacity of up to 60 megawatts.
A formal consultation period has now begun and members of the public and agencies are able to submit comments to the Scottish Government.
Mr Adam fears an ”avalanche” of similar applications will also threaten endangered species.
”The Nathro Hill windfarm will be 5km from the Cairngorms National Park south-eastern boundary where golden eagles breed and live,” he said.
”Many of these eagles have been satellite tagged and it is proven that these protected birds fly within the Nathro Hill windfarm area.
”Unfortunately, eagles are killed by wind turbine rotor blades – in California approximately 80 golden eagles are killed each year by rotor blades.
”Golden eagle numbers are quite low in this Angus area so any bird lost may be disastrous for their population.”