|The wide open spaces of the Allt Duine hills|
Update: since I wrote this piece two excellent features have appeared on other sites. Cameron McNeish has written about wild land, what it is and why it needs protection for Walk Highlands and Alex Roddie has written about the proposed Caplich wind farm and the North West Highlands initially on his blog and then in an extended version for UKHillwalking.com. Both pieces are well-worth reading.
Also, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland has issued a new vision for Scotland's mountains and wild land along with a petition on 38Degrees which I urge everyone to sign.
The future of wild land in Scotland is in the balance. Since the encouraging new planning regulations and the wild land map were launched last June (see my post here) only a few wind farms that would impinge on wild land have been turned down. Many more are awaiting a decision. Whether these are rejected or not will determine just how meaningful the wild land map really is. I echo Cameron McNeish’s recent call for the Scottish Government to state now that no wind farms will be built on wild land areas. That, it seems to me, is one of the points of the wild land map – to say that this land is protected so proposing wind farms or other destructive developments is pointless.
One of the key decisions, long overdue, is about Allt Duine, a proposed wind farm right on the borders of the Cairngorms National Park. This is the fight I’ve been most involved in, as spokesperson for Save theMonadhliath Mountains, with many letters appearing in newspapers as well as several blog posts, the key one of which describes a walk in the Allt Duine area and shows with photographs just how wild the area is.
As well as Allt Duine decisions are awaited on Talladh-a-Bheithe on the edge of Rannoch Moor which I wrote about here; Cnoc an Eas above Glen Urquhart not far from Loch Ness; Caplich above Glen Oykel in the North-West Highlands (Alan Sloman has written excellent posts with detailed maps about the last two on his blog here and here); and Beinn Mhor on the edge of Glen Affric (Highland Council will make a decision on this on February 24th). These five are the most potentially destructive currently proposed wind farms in my opinion. They are not the only ones of course. Highland Council has recently produced a Wind Farm Map of the region that shows all suggested and built wind farms that is very useful for seeing the possible spread of wind farms into wild land.
|Ben More Assynt - the Caplich wind farm would be clearly in view from this magnificent peak|
Then there is Stronelairg, a huge wind farm in the Monadh Liath that was excluded from the wild land map, though it should not have been. Planning permission has been given for this but the John Muir Trust are mounting a legal challenge. Please support them.
Pressure from wild land lovers is important to try and prevent these wind farms going ahead. Write and email objections and comments to Highland Council and to the Scottish government. Objections to Caplich can be made in the comments section on the Highland Council website here. Comment on social media too, tagging ministers and Highland Council, and support those organisations fighting for wild land – the John Muir Trust, Mountaineering Council of Scotland, Save the Monadhliath Mountains, Keep Rannoch Wild
|Wind measuring mast in the Allt Duine hills|
Note: anything I post about wind farms usually gets some responses about the whole issue of wind farms, climate change and wild land in general. I gave my view here. I haven’t changed it. And no-one is going to persuade me that wild land is not worth fighting for or that sacrificing it is necessary to combat climate change.