At a meeting in St Andrew’s on 1 March organised by Cameron Community Council to discuss the growing number of windfarm applications across Fife, a spokesman for Donald Trump pledged that the US billionaire would ‘use all of the resources at his disposal to do whatever it takes to prevent Scotland being encircled by wind turbines’.
Grandtully resident, Derek Birkett, a former grid control engineer of Northern Scotland, who had been involved in the installation and commissioning of several power stations, told the meeting: “Technically, wind power is the worst way to generate electricity because it is intermittent, unpredictable and uneconomic.”
John Mayhew, director of the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, said his group had concerns about industrialisation of rural landscapes, the erosion of wild land, the cumulative impact of having many individual turbines and battles between communities, developers and planners.
Struan Stevenson, chairman of the Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development, Intergroup in the European Parliament, said that wind turbines served only to ‘line the pockets of farm owners and foreign investors’.
Speaking to Comment, Helen McDade, Head of Policy at the John Muir Trust said about the impact of wind developments and transmission: “Over recent years, many people in Highland Perthshire and elsewhere have raised serious concerns about the impacts on some of our important natural landscapes from industrial-scale wind developments and also the new Beauly-Denny transmission line.  

David Does Not Win Over Goliath
“Indeed, throughout Scotland, 20,000 people objected to Beauly Denny – most of whom were concerned about visual effects. Often, those objectors spent many stressful weeks giving evidence at Public Local Inquiries in the hope of a fair decision-making process.   In the area around Amulree, there were at least four Public Local Inquiries into wind development and transmission in recent years.” 
She continued: “If a development is rejected all the way through the system, it is standard practice for a development on that site to be brought back with a few less turbines. Once permission is gained, then more turbines can be applied for, or higher ones (as has happened at Calliachar).  The new application is likely to go through without a further Inquiry.  People get exhausted, disillusioned and run out of local campaigning resources.   The evidence in these circumstances is that David does not win against Goliath.”

An Impact Too Far
She observed that, at those Inquiries, there is always extensive theoretical discussion about whether the visual impacts will be significant. It is almost impossible to imagine what it will look like - fifty turbines the height of the Forth Rail Bridge, for instance, or a row of pylons the height of the Scott monument.  
“Why not make up your own mind,” Helen urged, “take a walk up Birnam Hill and see what you think of the Griffin windfarm.  Some people will like it, but for many, particularly  in the local tourist industry, this is an impact too far on our natural heritage, for too little gain.”  
The John Muir Trust objected to Griffin, Calliachar and the Beauly-Denny line due to the impacts on wild areas and natural landscapes.  Helen concluded:  “We did so, however, after also carefully considering the economic, technical and global environmental arguments that were used to push those developments through. 
“The assessment of an increasing number of experts is that these developments were not a necessary sacrifice and are more to do with subsidy farming than saving the world.   It’s time to have a factual assessment of losses and gains – an independent National Energy Commission.”

For those who do as Helen McDade exhorts, the sight above is what will greet them - Griffin Windfarm pictured from Birnam Hill


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