|Ben Klibreck from Ben Hee|
The last two days has seen Highland Council reject proposals for three big wind farms that would have seriously damaged wild land in the Scottish Highlands. Clach Liath on the eastern flanks of Ben Wyvis; Dalnessie in the empty country north of Lairg in Sutherland and a major part of the view from Ben Klibreck; and Glenmorie to the north of Ben Wyvis would all industrialise a beautiful and wild part of the country.
Highland Council doesn’t have the final say, unfortunately. This now lies with the Scottish Government Energy and Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing. Hopefully Mr Ewing will listen to his SNP colleagues on Highland Council who spoke powerfully in favour of wild land when rejecting the wind farms.
The Council’s rejection of these wind farms has led to strong responses from many people and organisations concerned about protecting wild land. Chief Officer David Gibson of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland said in a press release that it was time for the Scottish Government to listen, change direction and implement a proper renewables planning policy to stop such proposals. Fraser Wallace, Policy Officer of the John Muir Trust, said “there is now a groundswell of opposition to the industrialisation of wild Highland landscapes, embracing a broad spectrum of residents, communities, businesses, conservationists, the outdoors community and local politicians." Alan Sloman has commented in his usual forthright style on his blog and includes maps of the Clach Liath site. Backpackingbongos has a map of the Dalnessie wind farm on his blog and describes a backpacking trip in the area. There’s also a good heartfelt piece on the Benvironment blog.
David Lintern in his Self powered blog doesn’t refer to these wind farms specifically but describes what it’s like to walk through a big wind farm – “this is as industrial a landscape as any inner city harbour area, shopping centre car park, retail park or breakers yard. But much, much bigger.” Having walked through a couple of wind farms myself I can only agree. David Lintern also describes eloquently the value of the habitats destroyed by these wind farms and calls for people to take action.
Highland Council’s rejection of the three wind farms and the subsequent surge in news stories and interest is an opportunity to push for the protection of wild land, especially as the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee is looking again at a petition for a new Wild Land designation to protect places of high scenic and wildlife value next Tuesday, 19 February (thanks to David Lintern for that information). Contacting MSPs and the Scottish Government can be done via the John Muir Trust’s Wild Land Campaign page where there is a template letter plus details of how to find your MSPs and how to contact the Scottish Government. I urge everyone concerned with the future of the Scottish Highlands to send letters or emails, to your MSP if you’re in Scotland, to the Scottish Government if not. I think this is a crucial time. The Scottish Government needs to support Highland Council and reject these wind farms and we need to encourage them to do so. Let us hope they listen.