Would you be put off holidaying in the Highlands if you knew you’d be encountering wind farms in the very areas of scenic splendour that attracted you in the first place?
Should the prospect of a spoiled view of or from an iconic Ross-shire peak like Ben Wyvis be enough to rule out the development of turbines capable of reaping renewable energy from the wind?
Should certain swathes of Scotland – for example around Munros and Corbetts – be afforded special protection from development on account of their value to our multimillion-pound tourism industry?
Do the economics of wind power stack up, or are too many eggs being placed in one basket in pursuit of over-ambitious targets?
The answers to these questions are, of course, highly subjective.
Opinions vary dramatically on the visual impact of wind turbines: through one set of eyes they’re an unforgiveable blot on the landscape, awhile through another a thing of beauty, a symbol of hope for a more sustainable future.
In between these polarised views are varying shades of opinion and, one suspects, growing indifference by an increasingly cynical population which assumes the majority of applications coming forward are likely to have a fair wind behind them, given Scottish Government policy.
Not so says the Scottish Government in a rebuttal, insisting that every scheme must be considered on its merits and in line with strict environmental standards.
It also cites intriguing research from VisitScotland, strongly indicating that the vast majority of people would not be deterred from visiting Scotland by the presence of a wind farm.
It would be interesting to hear what some of those foreign journalists on media junkets arranged on the back of the Disney blockbuster, Brave, make of the issue.
The stunning scenery portrayed in the animated movie will be instantly familiar to anyone left breathless by the beauty of the Highlands. There weren’t many wind turbines around back then of course.
As we report this week, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland wants those involved in the travel trade – and there are plenty of them in the Highlands – to lobby MSPs and VisitScotland over what it believes will be inevitable damage to the reputation of one of this country’s biggest selling points.
The call for a national spatial renewables policy surely has merit.
It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that at present there is no policy, with literally hundreds of applications in the pipeline and turbines appearing here, there and everywhere.
The Scottish Government cannot be faulted for its sense of ambition on renewables.
The Saltire Prize, a £10 million challenge to accelerate the commercial development of marine energy, is proving to be an important incentive to firms aiming to tap a resource of enormous potential.
The rush to renewables should not, however, mean an easy ride for proposals which have a significant and potentially irreversible impact on other aspects of life.
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