Dirty secret
Sir David Attenborough tells us that “nature is in crisis” (Scotsman, 13 March) and wildlife charities, including the RSPB, have joined together to warn us that wildlife and wild places are being “destroyed at terrifying speed” .
We know wind farms both on and offshore play their part in this destruction, the RSPB website tells us so, yet there was no mention or sight of them in Sir David’s wonderful Save Our Wild Isles programme on BBC1, nor were they mentioned in the extensive coverage of the campaign on the BBC news the following day. It is also worth noting that any mention of wind farms is avoided on Spring, Autumn and Winter Watch, screened live every year on BBC2.
Have BBC presenters been banned from talking about them for fear of the general public waking up to the fact that they are nothing but environmentally destructive killing machines?
Aileen Jackson, Uplawmoor, East Renfrewshire
Don’t trash our landscape to save the planet
The UK is now transiting from dependence on fossil fuels to dependence on “green” electricity from renewable resources. Much of this is expected to come from the Scottish Highlands and Islands, where multiple wind farms have already been constructed. Most of this power is required in the south, far from the wind farms where it is produced. A massive programme of reinforcement and extension of the National Grid has begun to take this electricity from where it is generated to where it is needed. These new power distribution lines will extend into every part of the UK.
For the past 70 years, we’ve lived alongside the many hydro-electric schemes in the Highlands which produce “green” electricity. The hydro pioneers who built all this back in the 1950s did an excellent job of blending what had to be, into what was already there. In comparison, emerging proposals for the new power transmission networks needed today are quite shocking. They show extensive, utilitarian, obtrusive facilities sited in locations that seem to have been selected solely on grounds of convenience and cost.
Little consideration is shown for those who may have to live with them for the next 70 years; hundreds of miles of overhead transmission lines, supported on ugly, lattice pylons; sprawling compounds at interconnection points, some larger than several football fields, filled with visually intrusive industrial equipment; huge industrial hangars containing switching and other process equipment, and so on. It is staggering that those who present such a view of the future seem to believe that we – as a nation – should accept anything so obtrusive and ill-thought out!
In Denmark, they woke up and smelled the coffee several years ago. There, lattice pylons are no longer accepted for any new power line construction. This respect for the environment includes extensive undergrounding, and aesthetic design of components such as pylons to reduce their visual impact. Why should we all be expected – in 2023 – to accept something that falls so far below the norms set so appropriately in the 1950s? Why doesn’t the electricity distribution industry use some of its embarrassingly large windfall profits to offer us something a bit more fit for purpose in 2023? We need to revisit the standard against which acceptability of what is now being proposed will be assessed. We need to ensure we are offered systems in keeping with today’s expectations and that are fit for purpose for the next 70 years.
The landscape belongs to everyone. In our efforts to save the planet we shouldn’t end up trashing our own little bit of it. The significant benefits we all enjoy when we treat nature with the genuine respect it is owed must be recognised.
​Bill Fraser, Eskdale,Highland

SAS Volunteer

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