Anti-turbine protesters from Galloway joined a demonstration at the SNP conference in Perth on Saturday to campaign against the party’s wind farm policy.
Andrew and Angela Shiells, from Barrachan, who are spear-heading the protest against the proposed Airriequhillart wind farm near their village, represented their community and were joined by others from the region at the march from South Inch to Perth Concert Hall.
The community around Barrachan is fighting against a wind farm which is currently at a “scoping stage”, meaning EDF Energy is assessing the area for potential wind speeds and has already erected a 70-metre meteorological mast for the job, which cropped up without neighbourhood notification on one of the Machars’ most scenic spots.
Angela, who at the age of 70 was on her first ever protest march, said it was a great day but she was left feeling as though the 350-strong crowd had largely campaigned in vain.
She told the Gazette: “I was amazed by the people – not just the numbers, but the spread of ages. There were, of course, children, youngsters and even dogs, but what struck me was how many middle-aged people turned out and from all over Scotland.
“The police were very good-natured and friendly with us and we did make some noise, shouting and blowing whistles. I’m still a bit deaf from it but had a great time.
“But I feel as though what we had to say was not taken on board. Of course, we booed at delegates when they ignored us, and a couple of them even swore at some ladies in our company, which was just awful.”
Dr Aileen McLeod, SNP MSP for South of Scotland, did take the time to chat to Angela, however. Angela added: “She was lovely and really listened to me, but she didn’t agree with what I had to say. I left there with a real feeling that we just don’t live in a democracy.”
Organisers of the Perth protest hailed the event an outstanding success and “a watershed” in the increasing opposition to wind farms in Scotland.
“This proves wind farms are now a political problem which the government ignores at its peril. Every new wind farm costs the First Minister, the SNP government and, ultimately, the independence campaign support,” said organiser Linda Holt. “Folk here are questioning whether they can trust a leader and a party that oversees what some are calling a ‘second clearance’ in the name of a white elephant technology which can never deliver what it promises.
“More than half of the turbines consented haven’t gone up yet, developers are in a frenzy to secure consent for new developments before this gold rush ends and consumers face rocketing energy bills to pay for the subsidies and huge infrastructure required to connect the turbines to the grid. The ordinary folk who have never protested before got up in the small wee hours and travelled form all over Scotland to join this demo.
“There are many in the SNP who know the terrible damage government wind farm policy is wreaking on local communities and local democracy. They have sent us messages of support and some even marched with us today. We also know there is conflict at ministerial level about the no-holds-barred pursuit of this madcap policy.”