Excellent and very long article in the Scotsman today about Skye and the Scotland Against Spin Petition. It is a premium article and due to copyright issues we cannot copy in full so we have given some snippets below. The full article can be accessed with a subscription or buying the paper.
There are currently two operational wind farms on the island – the 12-turbine Ben Aketil, which began generating power in 2009; and 18-turbine Edinbane, operational since 2010.
Both of these are located in broadly the same area.
Between them the two schemes can produce enough electricity to supply the annual needs of 55,000 households – around 10 times the number on Skye.
Now plans have been lodged to build 149 new turbines, standing up to 200m tall – nearly six times the height of the landmark Skye Bridge.
Andrew Robinson, who lives in a cottage not far from the operational wind farms, has joined the recently formed Skye Wind Information Group (Swig) – a collective not opposed to wind power but concerned with the type and scale of developments, their impacts and benefits for the area.
Robinson and fellow members – more than 1,000 at the last count, and growing – are deeply concerned about the proposals, which they believe would turn Skye into an “energy factory” at the expense of the community and the surroundings they hold so dear. Swig has launched a petition which calls for a public inquiry into all the planning proposals for wind farms and the new power line to give an overview on the ‘big picture’ for the island.
“Is the Skye Reinforcement Power Line needed if the proposed wind farms are not built?”
“How many wind farms do we want in a place which is famous worldwide for its landscape and beauty?
The petition also demands a freeze on any further large-scale privately owned wind farms on Skye as well as the set-up of new financial and business support for communities to build their own small-scale wind schemes, which they believe would return a greater income for local people and cause less damage to the local environment.
“Once people do understand what’s planned then the majority are really worried and have many questions,” according to Robinson.
“What will be the impact on tourism, so vital to Skye’s economy?
Aileen Jackson, a member of anti-wind campaign group Scotland Against Spin (SAS), is concerned at the potential impacts of the move.
“The Scottish Government’s move to speed up the roll-out of onshore wind will mean less scrutiny of proposals and this will be disastrous for the environment and our rural communities,” she said.
“Hurried decisions are often the wrong decisions.”
The group believes communities are being ignored and have launched a petition calling for planning rules to be changed to be more like the system in England, which will consent only schemes that can “demonstrate local support and address planning impacts identified by the community”.
Fellow SAS activist Rachel Conor lives and works on a smallholding in East Ayrshire, near the UK’s largest wind farm, Whitelee, and the smaller Sneddon Law.
“Scottish planning policy is a farce,” she said.
“There is very little point in putting effort into objecting to a development.
“It over-rides local opinion.
“Surely there should be some consideration for people living in rural Scotland and the importance of tourism to many of these places.
“Nobody is going to go there when they are bustling with turbines.
“It’s very short-sighted.
“Even when wind farms are dismantled at the end of their operational lives, hillsides will be left scarred with roads and concrete foundations.”
There’s no doubt that decarbonisation is bringing about a shift in the way energy is generated and used – moving away from large centralised thermal power plants towards smaller-scale, more widely distributed sources, mainly from renewables.
Another thing that cannot be disputed is the urgent need for major upgrades to the electricity network to accommodate the extra capacity which will be required to power the switch to electric cars and eco-friendly heating for homes and businesses.
Regardless of how or where it is generated – whether from onshore or offshore wind, solar, tidal, wave or hydro – energy will need to be transported to the places where it will be used.
And this will be a very big and very expensive job, with a wide-scale programme of works to install new cabling and transmission infrastructure that will undoubtedly disrupt daily life and bring long-term changes to landscapes. https://www.scotsman.com/…/climate-change-should…