YOUR report on the plans to replace our onshore wind turbines with even
larger structures should be of concern to everyone who values Scotland’s
natural beauty (“Scotland’s ageing wind turbines could be replaced with
super-sized structures”, The Herald, November 20). No other European
country is plastering its wild mountain and moorland areas with power
stations of industrial scale, complete with huge turbines, pylons,
substations and hill roads. With 3,200 turbines in operation and another
2,300 under construction or awaiting planning permission, it should be
obvious that Scotland is already well past saturation point for huge
turbines on land.
The future is offshore. Norway, for example has few land-based turbines –
in September I drove the length of Norway from Larvik to Tromso and recall
seeing only one wind farm, well away from people and their magnificent wild
landscapes. The Norwegians build their wind farms offshore, where the
smooth, laminar flow of wind allows the turbines to operate at maximum
efficiency, unlike their poor relations on the Scottish mainland.
Anyone in the Scottish renewables industry will confirm that offshore is
the future – today all the necessary knowledge and skills are available
and, with costs falling with every offshore turbine, there is no need for
further onshore development. The 5MW turbines in the Beatrice Field off the
Caithness coast have been put in place on time and on budget. Already a 10
MW turbine is under development for future deployment. Large-scale onshore
wind is yesterday’s technology, only pursued by commercial companies
chasing public subsidy while bribing local communities to support their
Now we need to identify those parts of Scotland dominated by large-scale
wind farms so that visitors can recognise those areas to avoid if they want
a hill walk without turbines. I look forward to the day when Visitscotland
produces its “no-go areas” brochure in a desperate attempt to kid the rest
of the world that Scotland still is a magnificent country to come to for
unspoilt natural beauty.
2 Bishop Terrace,
SOME years ago rural folk were slightly “comforted”by the assurance that
wind turbines would be in their communities for a generation only, until
the subsidies ran out. Then sites would be decommissioned and operators
would pay for the clean-up. Most were not naïve enough to believe that
would necessarily happen or the thousands of tonnes of concrete and steel
in the bases would be removed or the miles of access tracks would ever
disappear but the turbines would go. “Temporary” was the word used and some
were, no doubt, convinced industrial wind might be a necessary evil as a
stepping stone to more reliable generation. Maybe they didn’t object to
developments because they believed what the SNP administration was telling
Then we started to see the words “in perpetuity” and realised that wind
turbine installations may well be there forever.
Now the watch word is “re-powering” and even bigger turbines are to be
placed on existing sites.
This is an outrageous abuse of political power. If this is to be the future
then serious demands should be met. Those that were given planning
permission prior to any mention of “in perpetuity” should remain temporary
structures. They should be decommissioned as promised.
Those that are to be re-powered, and it can only be the most recent
approvals, must have full ecological surveys done as existing turbine bases
will not be in the right place for these significantly larger machines.
They will also have greater visual impact and be potentially noisier.
They must be treated as new applications with full planning fees paid.
Why should we bankroll this industry any more than we do already? If they
fail in any area the wind farm must be decommissioned.
To do anything less confirms that we were quite simply lied to and it
should be challenged.
I would also ask if an increase in size of turbine mean more subsidies if
the original contracts have not run out? If so that is another cost that
will burden the consumer.