Scotland’s Astronomer Royal believes the country’s only Dark Sky Park is at risk of being lit up by wind farms.
Professor John Brown says putting turbines in and around the Galloway Forest Park would be “akin to putting a factory in Glen Coe” and has called on First Minister Alex Salmond to make the area a wind farm exclusion zone.
His stance has been backed by the Scottish Wild Land Group and the John Muir Trust as they look to protect one of just three Dark Sky Parks in Europe.
Prof Brown said: “There is a place for wind farms in our national energy mix but they should not be sited in the Dark Sky Park. We should be seeking to protect the wonderful dark skies of the Galloway Forest above the world-leading Scottish Dark Sky Observatory. Installing any large structures that require illumination would be akin to putting a factory in Glen Coe or electricity pylons along the Cuillin Ridge.”
Galloway Forest Park was handed Dark Sky status in 2009. It has attracted thousands of visitors since and local MP Russell Brown is concerned they could be turned away by the increasing number of turbines.
He said: “Such a tourist attraction is important to the local economy as tourists will come from all round to experience the clear sky. This helps local restaurants and hotels. Yet light pollution would put this at risk and the Scottish Government is not taking this into account. On top of this, it would have a negative impact on the observatory, which Alex Salmond opened with great fanfare, and now his Government’s policies are to the detriment of the world class facility.
“Now we have three national organisations who have come out against the nine proposed wind farms within the vicinity of the park and requested that the Scottish Government look again at its planning policy. It is time for the Scottish Government to take a serious look at what impact these developments are having on local communities in areas such as tourism.”
Alison Chapman, co-ordinator of Galloway Landscape And Renewable Energy (GLARE), added: “It is welcome news that the Astronomer Royal is adding his voice to the growing clamour for something to be done about the threat from useless, but often rather brightly lit, wind farms to the unique intrinsic darkness status of our Dark Sky Park and its buffer zone.”
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