The road to Knoydart

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20/01/2007 at 10:48
I wonder if anyone shares my concern at proposals to erect 91 wind turbines on the north side of Loch Arkaig – above the road that runs down to Strathan in Knoydart. Each turbine will be almost 100 metres in height. If this isn't mass industrialisation of a tract of wild land then I don't know what is.

If this project goes ahead then it will be visible from the Ben Nevis and Glen Coe National Scenic Areas as experienced from Ben Nevis Aonach Mor and the Mamores. Such an intrusion, when paired with visible turbine movement, will introduce a new and dominating focus to the view across the Arkaig area.

The introduction of a wind factory of this size and scale in this landscape will change the experience of this remote area presently valued for the lack of both tourist and industrial development. The blatant industrialization will introduce a clear focus to iconic panoramic views that presently extend far beyond the hills of Arkaig out to the west coast.

This is only one of dozens of such proposals being considered in Scotland at the moment, many of which are in superb hillwalking areas. Does anyone else care?
RaR
20/01/2007 at 11:06
We need 'green' power but this is certainly not the answer - maybe the turbines could be placed on the roofs of every building in London? Why is it the North and West of Britain that always gets lumbered with these things.
Also, I have heard that they are not as efficient at generating 'Green' power as some people would like you to think and take many many years to ofset their construction etc.
20/01/2007 at 11:10
More environmental desecration so that the folk in London can leave their lights on all night long ......

Windfarms are basically a con - introduced by the Govt to make people wrongly believe that they are concerned about Global Warming and doing something about it.

If we all cut our electricity useage - which is rising year on year - we wouldn't need any windfarms. They don't replace existing power stations, they simply provide the extra electricity we need to run all our latest electrical gadgets.

Oh, and how will a Loch Arkaig Windfarm send its electricity to London? By a new line of mega-pylons I suppose.....

Anyone know Lochiel's view on this?

Full details of the proposal here:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Business-Industry/infrastructure/19185/ScopingArkaig
20/01/2007 at 11:16
Andy, the woman who told me about this proposal lives by Loch Arkaig and she said the local community had not been consulted at all. This is not uncommon these days. The power companies are on a roll and are pulling in vast amounts of subsidy, which you and I are paying for. I guess Cameron of Locheil will have been fully briefed all the way along.
20/01/2007 at 11:26
Cameron, in this case I agree with you. The problem, is that at the moment every single proposal to build a windfarm in an upland area is automatically opposed. This just has the effect or reducing the impact of objections to development whee it realy matters.

Windfarms aren't built on hilltops, so of course they're going to be visible from the highest point in an area. If there's an insistance that they shouldn't be visible from high hills and mountains then quite simply there won't be any windfarms built. Now I know some people would love that idea, but what are the alternatives?

People don't want nuclear power stations because we don't know what to do with the waste. They don't want coal and gas fired stations because of the pollution. The much touted response is "Change the way we live and use less" - well all that's going to do is delay the day when tough decisons still have to be made.

I've heard the argument time after time that windfarms aren't actually viable at present - but how are they ever going to become viable if we dont build the first generation and learn from them how to improve the technology? No technology is "right" first time. Early cars were astonishingly inefficient, but over time have improved beyond all recognition from those early Daimlers. Wind turbines may not be efficient at the moment, but at least they provide a starting point to develop something that in the long term could provide us with an answer to a global energy crisis.

So I agree in this instance that the proposed development is unacceptable, but we're not doing ourselves any favours by opposing every single development - how are the non-walking public going to differentiate between one objection and another? We as a nation, and a species, have to make compromises somewhere if we're going to solve the energy issue, and make them soon before it's too late. At the moment we're in danger of giving the appearance that we're just a totally selfish minority that will fight any proposal irrespective of the needs of the majority.
20/01/2007 at 11:27
Thks Cameron - that doesn't surprise me :(

20/01/2007 at 11:31
Good points there Dave.

I understand that the emphasis is starting to shift more towards off shore windfarms - studies having shown that this are more efficent and, more importantly, cthey can be built much closer to the main centres of population.

Hopefully over the rest of this decade such schemes will start to properly take off and upland schemes will become less common.

(btw personally I'm a NISEBY - Not In Someone Elses BackYard). I don't object to windfarms down here in Worcestershire - they're welcome next door to me if necessary - I do object to them in remote Upland areas. How efficient they really are is, of course, another matter.)
20/01/2007 at 11:54
I say local power for local people. Let's go back to the days where each major town generated it's own power. There might need to be a reduced national grid to balance out load but not anything like as much energy transfer (especially north to south) as there is now.

According to Wikipedia there is an 8GW average flow from North to South meaning that power generated on the south coast would be 11% more efficient than that generated up North.
20/01/2007 at 17:51
I wonder how much an independent Scotland would charge for that amount of power crossing the border??
20/01/2007 at 20:37
Good point Druidh. It's interesting that the SNP is very concerned about the free for all in on shore windfarm development and would rather see developments offshore, It's about the only political party that recognises Scotland's tourism industry could be seriously affected by the current windrush.
Dave, thanks for agreeing on this one but I don't know anyone who objects to every single proposal. You couldn't, there are simply too many of them. Alternatives to onshore windpower? How about offshore wind power, tidal and wave power, biomass, clean coal, and no matter what you think if New Labour stay in power we're going to get more nuclear. And these are not first generation wind factories. They've been around for a long time and the only development has been to build more of them and make them higher. The truth is that the wind is unreliable, and when the wind doesn't blow, or when it blows too much the wind factories need back-up - from coal fired power stations. I won't go into the whole problem of building these turbines on peat moors where carbon gases have been naturally stored and then released when the turbines are built; I won't go into the whole Renewables Obligations Certificate scheme which is costing untold billions of pounds, and which is even, apparently, causing Gordon Brown some stress. I don't accept the NIMBY argument either. I've lived here in the Scottish highlands for 30 years and I know the stress people are going through because their tourism business in under threat, or the farm on which they have been brought up on is likely to have 100m turbines overlooking them or the people who have worked hard all their lives to buy a little cottage in the highlands in their retirement now have to gaze out on scenes of industrialisation. Don't tell me, from the comforts of an energy greedy city, that we all have to make our little sacrifices...
20/01/2007 at 21:02
Well said Cameron - I couldnt agree more. Do you think that we will ever see a change of direction away from onshore windfarms in upland area's? I certainly hope so.
JH
20/01/2007 at 22:07
I don't like this plan. But to play devil's advocate once again:

Why is it the North and West of Britain that always gets lumbered with these things.

Because it's much windier in the N & W, and power is power available is proportional to wind speed cubed. Wind speed map:

http://www.esru.strath.ac.uk/EandE/Web_sites/03-04/wind/content/ukwindspeedmap.html

they are not as efficient at generating 'Green' power as some people would like you to think and take many many years to ofset their construction etc.

Admitttedly, from the British Wind Energy Ass site, but I have no reason to disbelieve it:

"The average wind farm in the UK will pay back the energy used in its manufacture within six to eight months, this compares favourably with coal or nuclear power stations, which take about six months."

http://www.bwea.com/ref/faq.html#payback

the woman who told me about this proposal lives by Loch Arkaig and she said the local community had not been consulted at all. This is not uncommon these days.

No doubt the locals will be informed when a planning application is put before the Highland Council.

At the moment we're in danger of giving the appearance that we're just a totally selfish minority that will fight any proposal irrespective of the needs of the majority.

I agree.

The truth is that the wind is unreliable, and when the wind doesn't blow, or when it blows too much the wind factories need back-up - from coal fired power stations.

Some back up is reqd, not necessarily coal, but the important point is that no CO2 is being generated whilst the wind turbines are working. Also the wind is usually blowing in some part of the UK (usually Scotland unfortunately). I havn't got the link here, but I think it was Oxford University who released a report on wind speeds which showed one period of complete calm across the UK in thirty years.

I won't go into the whole Renewables Obligations Certificate scheme which is costing untold billions of pounds

I wish you would go into it because I can't see a problem with this. If the wind turbines don't produce anything they don't get any ROCs. If they do produce, they do get ROCs. Presumably, given the large number of windfarm planning applications, they do produce, and the untold billions of pounds is well spent.

Don't tell me, from the comforts of an energy greedy city, that we all have to make our little sacrifices...

Ouch. (Luckily I live in the countryside.) Cameron, I seem to remember a couple of issues ago a pull out feature encouraging us all to fly off to distant places, and an another article on the delights of a trip to NZ. How energy greedy is that? That issue was an unfortunate two days after the Stern Report which was putting forward the case for reducing CO2 emissions by a few percent per year. Along comes TGO putting forward a case for increasing CO2 emissions by 50%.

I would love TGO to be in a position to fight schemes like this. TGO could be in a powerful position both as a voice of objection, and a rallying call for it's readers. Unfortunately it sounds more like a winging spoilt child.

I do hope this scheme doesn't get through, and would be suprised if the Highland Council approved it.

John
Edited: 20/01/2007 at 22:13
20/01/2007 at 22:28
I think the reason to oppose this scheme and many of the others proposed for the Highlands is to preserve the little remaining wild land we have left. Industrialising the Highlands destroys natural beauty, destroys a great part of what makes life worth living (and not just for the larger numbers of walkers - other tourists who come to the Highlands come mainly for the scenery, that's why Visit Scotland is opposing wind farms and the Beauly-Denny Power Line). I don't think it matters a damn whether the wind factories that will desecrate wild land will produce worthwhile energy or not, they are destructive anyway.

These proposals can be opposed by individuals writing letters of objection and by supporting bodies such as the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, Ramblers Association Scotland, Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, John Muir Trust and Scottish Wild Land Group (who together have formed the Beauly-Denny Landscape Group to oppose the Beauly-Denny powerline - I am the MCoS representative on this group).
20/01/2007 at 23:12
Given that this glen was considered and discarded as a possible route for the Western Isles - Beauly interconnector (for, amongst others, scenic value reasons), I'd be very surprised if permission was subsequently given for a windfarm.
JH
21/01/2007 at 10:46
Anyone know Lochiel's view on this?.......Andy Mayhew

I guess Cameron of Locheil will have been fully briefed all the way along........Cameron Mcneish

I'll say he has been; it looks to me like the proposed development is on his land. Unless I've misunderstood somewhere.

According to the scotland.gov.uk Andy linked too, the develpoment will be here - "centred on national grid refernce NN 097 935."

Which is 1km to the east of the large H (N of Loch Arkaig) on this map:

http://www.whoownsscotland.org.uk/page_cache/showlargemap.php?cid=in&map=locheil_map.jpg

The green area on the map is Locheil Estate, owned by "Donald Andrew Cameron, Cecil NT Cameron & Trustees of said Donald A Cameron - Locheil Estates Office, Achnacarry"

http://www.whoownsscotland.org.uk/page_cache/in/locheil.htm
Edited: 21/01/2007 at 10:47
JH
21/01/2007 at 10:57
I don't think it matters a damn whether the wind factories that will desecrate wild land will produce worthwhile energy or not, they are destructive anyway........Chris

I agree, and I think this is key to the argument. Whilst I have argued that windfarms are productive, I don't want to see wild land destroyed. I think Chris's comment is key to this argument because I think we/TGO should be fighting these proposals on these grounds - destruction of wild lands.

To start arguing that "wind is unreliable", "wind factories need back-up", "[CO2]problem of building these turbines on peat moors", "ROC scheme which is costing untold billions of pounds"(...Cameron), is just to cause diversions from the central argument, and this will only weaken our case. Loss of wilderness is a perfectly justifyable complaint.
Edited: 21/01/2007 at 10:59
21/01/2007 at 13:51
JH, glad to hear you agree. I think we need to be positive with our arguments. It doesn't matter how well wind farms work it's wrong to destroy wild land with them. The argument should be over location. It's too easy to get dragged down into whether or how much wind farms contribute to reducing global warming, which comes down to deciding between different sets of experts for non-experts like myself. Landscape and wild land land are important and need defending against threats of industrialisation. The type of industrialisation is irrelevant.
21/01/2007 at 17:16
JH, if you read my thread again you'll see that the thrust of my objection is about the destruction of wild land and the fact that you'll see the wind factory from the nearby Ben Nevis etc. My comments about the other issues were in direct response to Dave Mycroft's comments.
JH
21/01/2007 at 18:31
Sorry if I misinterpreted you rcomments Cameron. Chris, I'll look into the organisations you suggest to see if any are thinking along the same lines as me.
21/01/2007 at 18:44
I think we,ve been here before with this.
It is no use saying not here and being negative about it .
Why not propose a few windy spots ,where the beuty of britains wild places would be least compromised and build thousands of the things on these spots and ban them from everywhere else.
This would result in the infrastructure to collect the power covering many more turbines for a similar build cost making them cheaper and more efficeint to build and run.
It would be more acceptable to more people, even the locals to a scheme like this could benefit, by increased work prospects , gigantic farms could also have a tourist element about them , afterall what is one mans goose is anothers gander.
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