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Writers unite to highlight windfarm situation

Storm clouds are gathering over a corner of Highland Perthshire following plans for a fourth windfarm.

Residents and some well-known local personalities are raising their voices at what they consider to be the wholesale industrialisation of the Perthshire countryside.

Tomnagrew is the latest scheme to be passed to community councils in Dunkeld and Aberfeldy.

An application for the 13-turbine development to south of Aberfeldy is likely to be made to PKC after a scoping report is carried out.

The Tomnagrew windfarm does not yet appear on the website of renewable developers, Force 9 Energy. The company lists eight other UK projects completed or under construction and is behind Mull Hill Windfarm, near Crieff.

“The UK has a fantastic landscape and one which is ideally placed to be at the forefront of harnessing renewable sources to generate green energy for local communities,” said the company website.

“Force 9 Energy fully recognises that such an opportunity should take full cognisance of the environments and communities where these renewable developments may take place and is committed to ensuring that sympathetic and sustainable design principles are embedded into each project design.”

Moves by Force 9 to build a new generating facility at a site near Griffin and Calliachar windfarms has inflamed already vocal objectors.

Polly Pullar, celebrated photographer, writer and wildlife champion, recently went to look at the land around Griffin’s eastern edge. The 68-turbine site was completed a year ago.

On the walk, she was accompanied by her partner Iomhair Fletcher, writer and historian Ann Lindsay and author Jim Crumley.

“We were shocked by the total lack of life. No birds, no deer, rabbits or squirrels – it was a bleak wasteland,” Ms Pullar told The PA. “To be honest I was really gobsmacked – and saddened.”

Wildlife author Jim said: “Has someone put out a message that this part of the country’s up for grabs?

“I don’t think I know of a worse example of land being killed off for short term gain than what is presently happening near Aberfeldy.

“What with the Beauly-Denny power line, and the hydro schemes and the windfarm developments, there are going to be thousands of miles of permanent hill roads constructed, great swathes of open hillside replaced by concrete.”

Writer Ann Lindsay, from Amulree and Strathbraan Windfarm Action Group, lives by the A822, the main transporter route used to construct the cluster of windfarms.

For eight years the group tried to persuade the authorities that agreeing to one windfarm would set a precedent. She claims the area where she lives is now bearing the brunt of the renewables boom.

“I strongly believe in 15 or 20 years time, the area near my home will be held up as a shocking example of how Scotland’s wild land was wrecked,” Ms Lindsay blasted.

“All because no one was prepared to be strong enough to prevent it. Frankly after the endless letters, money time and energy expended, most people round here are exhausted.

“On our walk to Griffin in February we saw felled and brashed timber going on for miles and miles.

“It is a disaster zone, it covers an area as large as that of Perth.”

She wrote a letter to MSP Murdo Fraser, supporting his stand against the rush to approve wind energy schemes.

Another planned site, Crossburns, was brought to public attention two weeks ago. The 100MW West Coast Energy scheme would see up to 40 turbines on the Urlar Estate 4km south of Aberfeldy.

Unlike Griffin and Calliachar, which are masked by forestry, this proposed windfarm would be built on open moorland.

Meanwhile, a Freedom of Information request to Tayside Police by The PA has revealed that the total cost for police escorts of ‘abnormal’ loads – mainly turbine blades on lowloaders – to Big County windfarms in 2011-2012, was £116,875.

The costs were charged to the firms constructing windfarms in Perthshire and Kinross-shire.