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Wind turbines and the Ochils

I'm deeply sorry to learn that Clackmannanshire Council has narrowly voted to approve the Burnfoot 13-turbine wind farm above Tillicoultry. I was one of over 100 objectors, both as an individual and as a member of Friends of the Ochils, the society started by Rennie McOwan. The Ochils provide an island of wilderness not only for those living in and near Stirling, Alloa and central Scotland, but also for Glasgow and Edinburgh. They offer hills and moorland of character and distinction, which walkers can traverse by ancient Rights of Way. These huge turbines (102 m tall) will be close to their highest top, Ben Cleuch (721 m), and will intrude on the skyline for many Ochil walkers.

The Ochils should be conserved in their wild state for our grandchildren, not despoiled by the distorted economics of subsidised turbine construction. The Ochils are under siege, not only from proposed windfarms (two approved and four more the subject of public inquiry) but also by the Beauly to Denny power line. As Stuart Dean said "we could be sleepwalking to a disaster in the Ochils".

Wind farms should be small and designed for local needs, such as those in Gigha. Large-scale turbines, if we must have them, should be out at se, but we should also invest in other, more reliable forms of renewable power and do more with hydro schemes. The turbines are productive only when the wind is right – not too little, not too much – but they ruin the horizon 24/7/365.

It's already too late for the first Highland vista for visitors heading north on the A9 from Dunblane: the Braes of Doune windfarm already ruins that. I know that its 36 turbines were manufactured in Campbeltown, and I can see why windfarms are more popular in Kintyre because they bring much-needed jobs. But already the blades are being manufactured elsewhere, and it can't be long before UK labour costs mean that these huge, ugly devices are wholly imported. Why don't we account for the major energy demands involved in their manufacture and transport before permitting them to spread at such terrible cost to our beautiful scenery? This is utter folly!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 30, 2007 9:41 AM.

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