“It is beyond belief that a supposedly green and nationalist government colludes with voracious multinationals to ravage our most iconic landscapes, but that is exactly what we are seeing in the Great Glen. The petition will signal the terrible plight of the area to the world, and doubtless thousands of people will sign it.
“People are sickened by weasel words about protecting wild land; they want to see action.
Save Loch Ness and the Great Glen
Wind farms have a part in renewable energy developments but the potential for degradation and transformation of the World’s most famous loch and glen from a natural to an artificial landscape is environmentally damaging to the World’s most beautiful landscapes and sensitive and unique highland ecosystems.
Loch Ness is the world’s most famous lake. Loch Ness is 23 miles long (39 km), has a surface area of 56 km2 and the deepest point is 230 metres. It contains the largest volume of freshwater in the UK at 7.8 km3 which is almost twice the volume of standing waters in England and Wales combined. The Great Glen is the most famous valley system in Europe and is a unique geological feature stretching over 60 miles from Fort William to Inverness. In addition to the outstanding landscape qualities and vast scale of the Great Glen and grandeur of Loch Ness, the engineering masterpiece of the Caledonian Canal enhances the very special qualities of the area.
Threats to Loch Ness and the Great Glen
Loch Ness and the Great Glen together are part of the World’s most beautiful and inspiring landscapes. Despite this, SNH and Highland Council report that more than 500 wind turbines have been consented to, or are in the planning stage, within a 22 mile radius of the Loch. As such, within a short period, the Loch will soon be effectively surrounded by wind farms and wind turbines will be visible from all hill viewing points:
The Highland Council produce a wind farm activity map, available via: http://www.highland.gov.uk/downloads/download/170/renewable_energy
For example, the wind farm south of Fort Augustus is an open sore on the hills above the A82 and was recently suggested as suitable for the “Carbuncle of the Year Award”, reflecting the inadequacies of the planning system.
Loch Ness and the Great Glen area are prime assets of Scotland of national and international importance and are under threat from the attention of wind farm companies. The prime question being asked is: “Why should these outstanding and unique highland ecosystems and landscapes be damaged?” These are the world’s most beautiful and breath-taking landscapes and contain, so far, a virtually intact refuge of some of Europe’s last remaining wild land for the world community.
The Highland Council has often acquiesced in these developments and, supported by national policy, there has been negligence in preserving Scotland’s highland landscapes and ecosystems. The Loch Ness area and the Great Glen are therefore under desperate threat from over 500 wind turbines, thousands of tonnes of concrete in construction of these, and hundreds of miles of bulldozed access track approved and in the planning stage within 22 miles radius of Loch Ness (courtesy of the SNH windfarm map, see www.savelochness.com).
Time is, therefore, running out and it is crucial to save these assets for the Nation. Loch Ness and the Great Glen are of World heritage standard status although not, as yet, allocated that honour. They are of international value, recognition and regard, and are Scotland’s second most popular tourist draw (Scotland was voted the most beautiful country in the World in 2014 by the Rough Guides, the travel books):
Unfortunately, the cumulative scale of proposed developments indicates that the planning process has failed to protect Loch Ness and the Great Glen, as there have been several approved developments, such as Bhlaraidh, Invermoriston, Millenium.
Specifically, in the case of Stronelairg, this wind farm development has been approved against the expert advice of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) that this would cause environmental damage to wild land and sensitive upland ecosystems. The evidence indicates that the planning process has, therefore, also failed to safeguard these highland ecosystems and habitats.
The planning process does not take cognisance of the broader importance and international standard and value of these highland landscapes. The area is being transformed from a natural landscape to an artificial landscape with high negative impact on the quality of the area and the quality of life for those that live in the Highlands. The defining criterion should be: do these changes enhance the area? But the evidence of high cumulative impact is that they will degrade an international asset.
A call for action
A Petition has been opened, until 23rd April, by the Friends of the Great Glen and calls on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government:
- To afford protection to the Loch Ness and Great Glen by designating it as a National Scenic Area*;
- To recommend that a priority application is made to UNESCO for designation of Loch Ness and the Great Glen as a World Heritage Site;
- To take appropriate steps to discourage further wind turbine developments in the area and support the restoration of all sites therein damaged by wind turbines.
*The 5 main qualities of a National Scenic Area are: “setting and physical grandeur, glacial landforms, natural beauty and tranquillity, cultural heritage and man-made resources” (Countryside Commission for Scotland, 1987) and this area arguably meets these criteria.
The public can support the call for protection for Loch Ness and the Great Glen by signing the petition at:
Or on the web link at www.savelochness.com
The people of the Highlands, Scots at home and abroad, and visitors are being asked to contact their MSP, MP, Highland Council (www.highland.gov.uk) and the Scottish Government to express their concerns.
Wind turbines in the Great Glen near Fort Augustus and visible from the A82, the main tourist route in the west highlands
Friends of the Great Glen
Statement ends, 16/3/2015
Note: The Friends of the Great Glen is a group which runs an information site to discuss and debate issues affecting the Great Glen, and environmental and planning issues in particular that affect the amenity and quality of the landscape and ecosystems.
Contact details and more information: firstname.lastname@example.org