Wednesday, 29 December 2010
Destroying the Wild: the Dunmaglass Wind Turbines
A huge, remote and lonely moorland plateau lies to the north of the Cairngorms, filling the massive roadless area between the A9 road in the east and the Great Glen in the west. This is the Monadh Liath, the grey hills, an area of rolling heather upland with vast skies and an awe-inspiring sense of space and wild nature. In the heart of the area is the Dunmaglass estate, bordered to the west by one of the remotest Corbetts (peaks between 2500 and 3000 feet) in the Highlands, Carn na Saobhaidhe. Although not distinctive in itself this flat-topped hill gives extensive views all around, across the Monadh Liath to distant peaks. There is an amazing feeling of being deep in the wilds and far from the works of humanity. It’s a place for solitude, reflection and peace. But it won’t be for long. Today the Scottish government gave permission for an enormous wind farm on the Dunmaglass estate. Thirty-three giant turbines will tower above the landscape over a four-mile square area, each one linked by power lines and bulldozed roads. The landscape will be industrialised, ripped apart, trashed. To what end? “Green” power says the Scottish government, which begs the question as to why here when there are many other possible sites and also as to just how useful wind farms are when they produce no power during periods of calm, cold weather such as we’ve had the last month. Money says absentee estate owner Sir Jack Hayward, who will pocket millions without raising a finger or spending a penny. Money too, says RES, the company behind the wind farm who will benefit to the tune of £120 million from the tax payer.
And so that the 1/125th richest man in Britain, who already has £160 million, can become even richer in his Bahamas tax haven and a construction company, part of the McAlpine group, can make even more money a unique and beautiful area of wild land will be destroyed, along with the wildlife that lives there. I find this sickening, appalling and depressing, an act of barbaric vandalism. It’s also worrying because if this is how the Scottish government responds to this application what will happen to other applications for environment-destroying wind farms? How much more will we lose? The Dunmaglass wind farm was opposed by the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (you can see our objection here) and the John Muir Trust (objection here). This is a defeat but we have to fight on and it’s through these organisations that we can do so. Please support them.
Late night edit: excellent posts on the Dunmaglass obscenity by Cameron McNeish and Alan Sloman can be found on their blogs here and here.
Photo info: A wild camp on the Monadh Liath. Canon EOS 350D, Canon EF-S 18-55@21mm, 1/80 @ f8, ISO 200, raw file converted to JPEG in Lightroom 3.