Scotland is in danger of losing its “stunning landscapes” unless there is a halt to the number of wind turbines being built, a Highland campaigner has warned.
Lyndsey Ward fears that the growing number of turbines and their associated pylon lines, grid connections and substations will result in the country’s finest landscapes being “littered with industrial hardware”.
She wants the Scottish Government to take action to prevent that happening – and is concerned about the size of the wind turbines now being built.
The anti-wind-farm campaigner claims they are up to 220 metres high, pointing out that the London Eye measures 135 metres.
“It is a disgrace that neither the Scottish Government nor Scottish Natural Heritage are now mapping or monitoring visual impact at a national level,” Ms Ward said. “No comprehensive wind farm maps have been available since 2013. Is this a deliberate attempt to keep the public blissfully unaware of what is happening across our country?
“In 2012, before he was energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse, wrote to me and said turbines of almost 150 metres were an unacceptably large size. If that wasn’t acceptable then how can anything bigger be acceptable now?”
According to Ms Ward, the Scottish Government has confirmed that there is no limit to turbine heights on land. It says the removal of subsidies by the UK Government is the reason turbines are becoming so much larger, so they can be commercially viable.
“They fail to mention that turbines across the world are increasing in size as developers chase ever-increasing profits, subsidies or no subsidies,” she said.
Ms Ward also maintains that it costs £3.5 million a week in compensation when turbines are turned off.
“It is time to call a halt. A million turbines will not produce power if there is no wind,” she said.
“Let us save what is left of the stunning landscapes of Scotland that millions travel the world to come and see. Let us be proud and protect Scotland’s remaining heritage.”
Scotland’s energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “The removal of UK Government support since 2015 has meant larger more efficient turbines are now necessary to ensure projects remain viable without subsidy, meaning some landscapes may not be suitable for them. We have put in place policies to ensure wind farms are developed in appropriate locations and Scottish Planning Policy has for a number of years provided additional protection for both of Scotland’s national parks and many national scenic areas, while ensuring potential impacts on ‘wild land’ are taken into account before reaching determinations.
“We clearly need to pursue Scotland’s vast potential to generate power from renewable sources, not least because of the importance of decarbonising our society in the face of a climate emergency, but we will do this in a way that seeks to provide appropriate protection for our magnificent natural environment, with each application viewed in this context and based on its own merits.”