The Duke of Buccleuch has moved to defend plans to set up a wind farm despite his late father’s opposition to turbines, which he once described as “unparalleled acts of rural vandalism”.
The ninth Duke, Johnnie Buccleuch, who died in 2007 aged 83, said wind farms were inefficient as well as being a blot on the landscape.
But last week his son Richard, 59, the 10th Duke and now the largest landowner in the UK after inheriting most of his father’s property, unveiled plans for a wind farm and hydro power park on a restored mine site at Glenmuckloch near Kirkconnel in Dumfries and Galloway.
Buccleuch Estates is looking to develop an energy park which it is claimed would deliver extensive benefits for the community in south-west Scotland.
The plans were applauded by the Scottish Government and hailed as a benchmark for the restoration of former mine sites by Scottish Mines Restoration Trust.
In two years it is hoped the old mine area will be producing energy from the hydro and wind section as well as coal from the other half of the site in a project that will create 60 jobs.
However, the clear-up project appears to be at odds with the late Duke’s strongly held views.
Just a few months before his death he wrote in The Herald: “As European leaders now recognise the use of low-energy light bulbs in combating global warming, the Government has good reason to switch the subsidy of taxpayers‚ millions of pounds, away from monstrous wind turbines, of spasmodic and doubtful benefit, into making such bulbs more price-competitive, ensuring greater and more immediate impact on climate change.
“No-one dares to confess how long it takes wind turbines to recoup the carbon emissions caused by their manufacture, transport, site preparation, roads and transmission lines.”
John Glen, chief executive of Buccleuch Estates, said a key reason the late Duke was against wind farms was their impact on the landscape, but on this occasion they were restoring an industrial landscape, and the community was in favour of turbines.
“The other reason the Duke opposed wind power was that it was intermittent,” he said.
Mr Glen said: “If we can blend wind with hydro then we have resolved that.”
Green MSP Patrick Harvie earlier said he was astonished the current Duke was able to buy the Glenmuckloch land for £1 because he took on the liability for the site left by former opencast mine operator ATH Resources when it collapsed last year.
Richard, the Duke of Buccleuch, said earlier the project was “a positive step forward not only for the local community and Buccleuch Estates but also for the Scottish coal industry and the wider energy sector”.
Working with other local landowners, a range of complementary renewable energy technologies would be established both for local consumption and export.
The ninth duke became one of the biggest landowners in Europe with around 280,000 acres, was said to be as rich as the Queen and left an estate of £320 million in his will.
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