Kate Mavor, the outgoing chief executive of the National Trust for Scotland, has criticised the Scottish Government and local councils for not doing enough to protect the country’s heritage.
Ms Mavor, 53, who takes up a new position as chief executive of English Heritage next month, said not enough consideration was being given to the impact that change and development has on Scotland’s heritage and landscape, and that it had led to a monotonous uniformity in communities.
Speaking at Culzean Castle in Ayrshire in her final week as the trust’s chief executive, Ms Mavor also said the Scottish Government has been in too much of a rush to use wind farms to meet its climate change targets. In some parts of the country, she said, wind farms were a desecration on the landscape.
“I do think the impact of change and development on heritage is not considered enough,” she said in her final interview in the job. “Either it’s not required for people to properly evaluate it, or, as has happened recently with wind farms, there’s been environmental assessments done which have strongly suggested this is not a good idea and they have been over-ruled.
“That’s just paying lip service. It’s particularly important when town centres are looking uniform and the same chains of shops are appearing everywhere and you have that whole monotonous uniformity of town centres.”
Ms Mavor, who is leaving the National Trust for Scotland after six years, said she felt she had to speak out about the proliferation of wind farms in Scotland. The trust has recently objected to proposals for a 67-turbine wind farm south east of Fort Augustus, which Ms Mavor said was part of a rush to wind farms that needs to be arrested.
“There’s too much of a rush to one kind of electricity generation, being wind farms,” she said. “There are many other things that could be done to bring down our carbon footprint which are not being emphasised such as making sure everyone’s house is insulated and educating people – that would be first thing to make the biggest dent.
“We also think wind turbines need to be appropriate and proportionate to the landscape – in some ways, they can enhance the landscape but in other places they would be a desecration.
“The one we did protest against recently was bigger than the size of Inverness and visible from miles around in a stunning mountain landscape – that is disproportionate. We don’t have to do it that way. We want to make sure that it becomes normal to evaluate the impact on heritage of any change. It’s the fact it’s not considered that we feel strongly about.”
Speaking ahead of her final day at the trust yesterday [Friday], Ms Mavor also defended her record. When she joined in 2009, the organisation was in a financial crisis and did not have the funds it needed to run its 120 properties and Ms Mavor said change was badly needed.
“It was like putting on a huge big brake to stop it careering over the edge of the cliff, ” she said, “and because we did that, that stopped it happening. It would have gone over the edge.”
Ms Mavor said the decision to cut 20 per cent of the staff was the right one, and that, after a reorganisation, the trust was now in a healthy financial situation again. She starts her new position at English Heritage on May 4th.
XREF Kate Mavor talks love and money in today’s The Herald Magazine
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding