There is one week left before the deadline for objections to a plan for a wind farm which would have a devastating impact on one of the spiritual touchstones of wild Scotland – Rannoch Moor.
In what would be an ineradicable act of vandalism upon one of Scotland’s most viscerally moving and loved wild places – Rannoch Moor – Talladh a Bheithe Wind Farm Ltd wants to build 24 wind turbines – each 125 metres tall – together with the wide access tracks, buildings and infrastructure – on moorland between Loch Rannoch and Loch Ericht.
This area is within one of Scotland’s remaining areas of wild land – famous for its unspoilt emptiness and beauty as well as its wildlife.
The huge turbines would affect views from Schiehallion, the Ben Alder massif, the mountains above Glen Lyon and Loch Tay and some above the Drumochter Pass.
It would even be visible to drivers on the main A82 on the far side of Rannoch Moor; and from Buachaille Etive Mor beyond.
Nothing can put back the essential character of Rannoch if this utterly inappropriate proposal is consented.
The point about Rannoch Moor is both that is an authentic wild place and that its location makes it one that very many know – from passing on its fringes, looking into the infinity of its unimaginable expanse of moorland and wetland, exhaling at the vast empty wonder of it – and moving on, consciously better from having touched something transformative.
Hill walkers know its secrets and work to find them, taking on the challenges of the great mountains, rewarded by the perspectives they offer deep into this mysterious and profoundly important place.
It was bad enough when they permitted afforestation on parts of the moor, creating visual obstructions to its sweeping authority – but at least commercial trees will be felled, leaving room for battles to prevent replanting.
But access roads, concrete plinths and wind turbines – some of these, like the concrete plinths and roads, will never be taken away; and there is no guarantee that the turbine towers will be responsibly removed at the end of their relatively short shelf life of 10-12 years.
It is unbelievably irresponsible even to think of sacrificing the permanent integrity of one of this country’s most important and most moving wild paces for the sake of a short term, unreliable source of additional energy that has a sharp and progressive fall-off in production efficiency two or three years into operation.
The local economy depends on visitors – reliably – coming in search of an unspoilt place to relax in physical activity. If this was lost and no longer a draw, local businesses have good reasons to fear that jobs and incomes on which the community relies would be harmed.
Scotland’s mountaineers are supporting the tourism businesses fighting to save the threat to their livelihood from the industrialisation of Rannoch Moor in this misplaced proposal.
The view from tourism operators
Rose La Terriere, of Dunalastair Estate Holiday Cottages, says: ‘We have been letting holiday cottages to visitors for over 40 years. Visitors come from Scotland and overseas for the tranquillity and unspoilt landscape of this glen of Rannoch. They walk the hills and climb, birdwatch and wildlife watch and enjoy the moors, hills and forests of this beautiful area. We are like an island or oasis, but surrounded by hills rather than water.
‘Many people believe Schiehallion has healing powers. Whether or not you believe this, there is something very special about this hill. The proposed wind farm will be seen from the slopes of Schiehallion and from very many others of our hills and from the south side road of Loch Rannoch and many popular paths.
‘I sincerely believe that the very unique offering of our tourism business and others in the glen will be destroyed by this development. Given that farming is fading in glens like ours any loss of tourists would destroy the community.’
Louise Hardwick [pictured above], from Liarn Farm Holiday Cottages, is also fearful about what the wind farm would mean, saying: ‘We provide six self-catering holiday cottages and are worried about the effect this development would have on our business and others in the area.
‘Our guests come to relax in remote and beautiful surroundings with spectacular panoramic views of the loch and surrounding mountains, to take advantage of the many excellent walking, climbing, cycling, fishing and wild life watching opportunities the glen affords.
‘I can see no reason for visitors to travel to such a remote area simply to see a wind farm from every view point around the loch including Ben Alder, Schiehallion and other Munros. This is a special area of scenic beauty which attracts visitors from around the globe; they in turn maintain the tourism employment and economy of the area.’
The Scottish Government’s declared intent to protect wild spaces
The Talladh a Bheithe wind farm is being proposed at the very moment when the Scottish Government claims it is getting serious about protecting wild lands from industrialisation. It will be a test case for the new planning guidance the government says will achieve this.
David Gibson, Chief Officer for the Mountaineering Council of Scotland [MCofS], which supports the campaign to see the Talladh a Bheithe proposal rejected, says: ‘If Scottish Government Ministers are serious about protecting Scotland’s rapidly dwindling wild lands then they will recognise that this scheme must be refused consent.
‘The MCofS supports local residents and businesses in wanting a sustainable future for their communities – one where the wild lands are cherished and where they provide the foundation for a sustainable tourism economy.
‘The wild lands of areas like Rannoch are exactly what make Scotland so special for visitors, whether they want to walk, climb, cycle or simply relax. To squander this superb national asset would damage our country’s reputation as a destination and the fragile local economy by driving visitors elsewhere.’
Please join this campaign to save Rannoch Moor
The final date for objections to the scheme is 5th August 2014.
Objections should be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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