He has built a career out of digging up Scotland’s past.
ut television historian Neil Oliver has turned his attention to the future – speaking out against the proliferation of ‘intrusive and uglifying’ wind farms.
The presenter of A History of Scotland said he believed wind turbines could ruin every view in the country and insisted the public needed to hear the unvarnished truth about the hard choices faced over future energy policy.
Dr Oliver, who has fronted the BBC’s Coast series, also attacked American billionaire Donald Trump for presiding over the ‘wholesale destruction’ of an irreplaceable stretch of Scottish coastline.
He accused First Minister Alex Salmond of bowing to the wealthy.
He added: ‘I’ve got to the point where I wish politicians and big companies would just talk to the population like grown-ups.
‘Wind turbines, whatever you think they look like, are destructive and intrusive. They involve massive amounts of cement, which is an extremely ungreen material, and pre-suppose the construction of power lines either with pylons or underground cables.
‘We’ve become squeamish about oil and gas-powered power stations and we’re definitely squeamish about nuclear power. We should be grown up enough to understand that if our energy is to come from turbines, it will come with a price.
‘That price might be that in the future we live in a country that is in many ways uglified. If you want renewable power, then you’ll have to live with a landscape that is completely altered by turbines so that every view on land and seascape will be compromised.’
His comments come as new research claims to show that key parts of Scotland are becoming less windy, which opponents have seized on as further evidence of the ‘futility’ of wind power.
Dr Oliver said it was ironic that Mr Trump was opposed to the wind farm in Aberdeen Bay because it would spoil the view from his golf course, when the course itself involved the ‘wholesale destruction of a landscape’.
He said: ‘We’re too grown up as a people, I hope, to be fooled by the idea that you can have the world’s most prestigious golf course, hundreds of holiday apartments and a five-star hotel and there won’t be any consequences from that.
‘That dune system, which was almost unique in Scotland, has been scraped away by an army of bulldozers.’
Scientists at Heriot-Watt University have found that wind speeds in the Central Belt have dropped by an average of 5 per cent a decade since the 1970s, meaning wind energy may be cut in parts of the country.
The study, to be published in the scientific journal Renewable Energy, challenges claims by the wind energy industry that 2010 – regarded as one of the worst years for wind output – was a hiccup.
The study, which relied on wind speed data supplied by the Met Office, concludes: ‘It has been shown that the wind resource has significantly decreased and the decrease appears to have happened in a few discrete steps, which had been masked by the large volatility of the wind climate.’
Susan Crosthwaite, of Communities Against Turbines Scotland, said: ‘This is more evidence of the futility of the obsession with onshore wind.
‘We argue that a lot of these wind farms are poorly located and developers are not doing the proper environmental impact assessments.’
Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of trade body RenewableUK, said: ‘Earlier this year, wind fed a record amount of power into the grid and is on course to power 5million homes this year, so it’s important to read the full report in context and not jump to alarmist conclusions.’
The Scottish Government said: ‘Scotland has astounding green energy potential and vast natural resources and we have a responsibility to make sure our nation seizes this opportunity to create tens of thousands of jobs and secure billions of pounds of investment.’