Outlander author Diana Gabaldon condemns “insane” plan to industrialise Rannoch Moor with vast wind farm
The author of the historical drama, has now intervened by condemning the plans for the Talladh a Bheithe wind farm, near Loch Rannoch, claiming it would be “insane” to damage tourism in this way.
Outlander author Diana Gabaldon has condemned plans for a wind farm near Loch Rannoch where scenes for the new epic TV serialisation of her work were filmed.
If approved, the Talladh a Bheithe wind farm would see 24 wind turbines, each 125m tall, together with 12.8km of wide access tracks, buildings and infrastructure, industrialise a vast area of designated wild land between Loch Rannoch and Loch Ericht.
It is strongly opposed by many groups, including the Mountaineering Council of Scotland.
The US launch of the 16-part Outlander TV series attracted five million viewers and is the biggest single television or film production ever made in Scotland. A second series has been announced, which could be worth £20 million to the Scottish economy.
Fans of Outlander love the magnificent, wild and open highland landscapes which are the setting for the tales about World War II nurse, Claire Randall, who is transported back to the strife-torn Scotland of 1743 where she meets handsome warrior Jamie Fraser.
With the novels having sold 25 million copies and the rapid global spread of the TV serialisation, Diana has done an immense amount to further popularise Scotland’s mountains and wild lands as a visitor destination and film location.
The US-based author’s opposition to the wind farm proposal comes not just from her love of the landscape, but also from the expertise she gathered studying for a PhD and then working as a professional ecologist.
Diana said: “One of the most gratifying things about the TV show is that we were able to film it in Scotland, and that the staggering natural beauty of Scotland is as much a character as are any of the actors.
“I’ve heard from hundreds of fans that seeing the show has convinced them that they must go to Scotland, and from hundreds more who have already come to experience it for themselves.
“Frankly, given the undoubted economic value of tourism to Scotland, it seems insane to sacrifice one of its most scenic landscapes for the sake of an electrical pittance.
“Light-bulbs need energy; human souls need wildness and beauty. While I appreciate the need for sustainable energy development, I very much oppose such a project on Rannoch Moor.
“While I am a novelist and film consultant, I was in my previous career an ecologist – and in all three of those roles, I’d view the potential loss of Rannoch Moor’s unique wilderness ecosystem as a tragedy, a disaster that would not be worth any amount of extra kilowattage.”
Nearly 1,000 formal objections have been made to the wind farm proposals, which are due to be considered by Perth and Kinross Council in the near future.
David Gibson, Mountaineering Council of Scotland Chief Officer, has urged the Scottish Government to rule out large scale wind farms in the wild and natural areas in a bid to protect Scottish tourism.
He said: “The visitor appeal of Rannoch Moor will be ruined if this industrial-scale wind farm goes ahead, VisitScotland must speak out. It is bizarre that VisitScotland and the Scottish Government keep calling for tourists to enjoy our wild and unspoilt lands while policies are pursued that could turn them into industrial sites.
“We are calling on the Scottish Government to completely rule out large scale wind farms in the wild and natural areas which are essential to Scottish tourism. That means new planning controls which clearly prohibit such developments in all wild land areas, not just national parks and national scenic areas.
“It is brilliant that Outlander is having such a valuable effect on tourism and shows that we should be using our wild lands and mountain spaces to develop sustainable tourism, not as a source of vast profits for multi-national power companies and big land owners.”
Politicians from several parties have previously backed a motion in the Scottish Parliament (S4M-10744) to oppose the Talladh a Bheithe proposals being made by Netherlands-based developer, Eventus BV.
Among the organisations opposing the wind farm scheme are the John Muir Trust, which has described it as “a knife in the heart of Scotland’s natural beauty” and Scottish Natural Heritage, which has criticised its likely effects on rare birds and mammals – estimating that the turbines will kill one golden eagle every 19 months.
Diana is also backing a campaign to save a historic Scottish castle. Diana is a patron of Castle Leod, near Strathpeffer, and has used it as a fictional location – Castle Leoch – in her best-selling series of books, which have sold more than 25 million copies.
The success of Outlander has seen a significant rise in visitors to a Scottish castle, figures from Historic Scotland have revealed.
Doune Castle, Stirlingshire, has seen year-on-year visitor numbers grow by 30.2 per cent to 49,553 in 2014-15.
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