Saturday 17 November 2012

Wild Land & Wind Farms News

The peatlands of Allt Duine, site of the proposed wind farm

No CO2 Saved From Wind Farms on Peatlands

Carbon dioxide is stored in peat and released when the peat is disturbed. This has been known for many years. However those in favour of building wind farms on peatlands have always argued that the reduction in CO2 output from having electricity produced by the turbines outweighs the CO2 released by the damaged peat. A letter from scientists in the prestigious academic journal Nature was the basis for this belief. Recently, though, the same scientists have again written a letter published in Nature but this one says the exact opposite - wind farms built on peatland are very unlikely to save any CO2 at all. Their conclusion is that “the construction of wind farms on non-degraded peats should always be avoided”. In Scotland most wind farms are built on peat. It now seems that none of these wind farms are actually doing anything to reduce CO2, which rather destroys the main rationale for them being there and certainly calls into question whether any more should be built.

This news has been covered by the Mountaineering Council ofScotland and the Scottish Wild Land Group. There has not yet been a response from the Scottish government. I have written to my MSP, Fergus Ewing, who happens to be the Minister for Energy and Tourism, and had a response describing it as an “important matter” and saying that he is seeking advice and will respond to me again. I will report when he does.

Waiting for the Allt Duine Wind Farm decision

The Public Inquiry into the Allt Duine Wind Farm ended a few weeks ago and we now await the Reporter’s decision and report, which may not appear until the New Year. Fergus Ewing is the Minister responsible for accepting or rejecting the Reporter’s decision. I may well be writing to him again!

Turbines proposed for Killington Lake on the edge of the Lake District

I have to admit I haven’t paid too much attention to wind farms south of the border in England. One recent proposal did get through to me though, because it is so shocking, and that is for three 132 metre turbines by Killington Lake between the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks and right on the edge of the Howgill Fells. This beautiful part of the country has already been damaged by wind turbines at Lambrigg. The new ones will be much taller and more obtrusive if built. Travelling down to Kendal on the train for the TGO Awards a few days ago I enjoyed the views of the Howgills and the rolling hill country on the edge of the Lake District. Turbines here would be a monstrous intrusion into a much-loved landscape. If you feel the same STAK, the group set up to oppose the wind farm, has a good website with advice on what you can do.


I have recently again been attacked as being pro wind farms on wild land because I accept the science behind climate change and also attacked as being a climate change denier because I won’t accept that wind farms shouldn’t be built on wild land! I wrote about my position here.


  1. Good on you to take on Fergus Ewing. I can however foresee his possible responses. Response A): following immense pressure put on the said scientist by the usual suspects (WWF, The Michael Mann church), the scientists will write another letter to Nature retracting their claims. Back to normal; B) Ewing will say CO2 emissions saving is only part of the story. Wind is all about securing stable energy supplies for Scotland. That 'wind' and 'stable' occurring in the same sentence build up to an oxymoron is something that of course will be lost on Mr Ewing's increasingly evanescent sense of reality.

    Next time you catch his ear, though, try asking why, in calculating CO2 emissions 'savings' allegedly arising from wind farms the Scottish Government NEVER includes the emissions caused by i) the Beauly-Denny upgrade and other 'improvements' to the grid that would not have been required otherwise; ii) the emissions caused by running backup stations (the Guardian piece by Messrs Lynas and Goodall was an object lesson in deception on that front).

    I don't expect anything other than a weasel answer, but it's worth a try.

    1. I think 'wind is all about securing stable energy supplies for Scotland' is the main part of the story no matter how absurd the reasoning(?) might be.

  2. While I agree totally with protecting wild land, we should be aware of the potential consequences of doing so, namely: that the surrounding landscape not designated as wild land will be ripe for trashing by the wind energy companies. No one will want to walk in these hills so the wild land will be stuffed full of people, have no views worthy of the name and be a pretty uninspiring place.

    Your example of the Killington Lake proposal is a good one. Turbines can't be situated in the Lake District so on the edge of the Lake District they'll go (maybe).

    I don't want turbines at all which is, in my view, the only position consistent with a desire to protect landscape be it 'wild' or otherwise.

    1. Most of us don't want turbines anywhere - on land, wild or not, or at sea. We don't want to pay for an inefficient energy source that destroys the environment it is supposed to save. Communities are disregarded as predatory developers circle them to try and farm the subsidies on offer. I too have been in touch with Fergus Ewing - I am also waiting for the promised reply. He also promised me he took what I said very seriously when I met him in October 2011. He didn't answer my concerns - he didn't even mention the serious ones. I reminded him of that when I met him last month and forwarded him more information. I am still waiting ........

  3. Wind plant developers rarely take account of the CO2 produced in the manufacture of concrete - 1kg of concrete equals 1kg of CO2. This together with the CO2 released from peat mountains mean the wind plant would have to work for hundreds of years to offset the CO2. In addition to this there is the destruction of habitats. Replacing mountains with concrete is anything but green.

    1. Still trying to get Scottish Renewables to confirm if they base their CO2 savings calculations on 30% capacity like they do number of households powered by a wind farm. I have now asked three times and the last time I asked for a simple yes or no answer - still nothing. We all know wind farms rarely work at 30%. If you want to see how individual wind farms perform go to and use the search facility and put in the name of the wind farm you are looking for. If you want a real 'laugh' look at Fairburn - about to put in for an extension - one of the mist inefficient power stations you can imagine.

  4. Pat, brilliant relevant point - nice one, will borrow that please !? Here on Anglesey we are set to be trashed by hundreds of these buggers on a 20 mile long island, along with the pylon invasion from a 50 MILE wide farm just off the Anglesey coast ( in addition to the new nuclear station we are getting anyway ! The ruination of a beautiful island bringing in 2.5 million tourists a year is endlessly condoned in the name of saving the worlds energy problems, which we all know it wont. This country has gone nuts, when other European nations are abandoning these systems having seen the myth exploded

  5. The Killington Lake proposal is an interesting one. Is this not the self same land that is mooted for incorporation into the LDNP or YDNP to form the connecting corridor? If not, it is mighty close.

    Whilst I appreciate the very real need to preserve the wilder lands of Scotland from destruction, there are many, many other areas ripe for desecration by the money-grabbing wind/renewables lobby such as this, and huge swathes of mid-Wales.

    We must keep a close eye on Scotland, but we must not forget the other areas of the country where, to be blunt, there is an even greater need for action and protection becuase there is less "wild" land in the first place.

    1. Jules, you are so right, I live in Mid Wales where we already have around 400 turbines and proposals for more than another 400 with the upgrading of the older ones to the much larger ones. This in a smaller area than the borders of Scotland alone.

      Most of these are on peat uplands previously just grazed by sheep.

      Powys County Council have turned down 3 out of 4 of the big proposals but these have been appealed and it will cost the council £2.8 million pound to defend the decision in court. This will be funded through council tax.

      Our road system is totally inadequate to deal with the abnormal loads to move the sections and blades and we are facing gridlock on 150 days of the year for the next 5 to 8 years depending on how many sites are approved. Properties will have to be demolished, roads realigned and new bridges built to cope with the loads.

      We feel violated!

  6. Chris.
    You say "A letter from scientists in the prestigious academic journal Nature was the basis for this belief."

    In fact the Scottish Government has justified its building of wind farms based not on a letter but a comprehensive study carried out in 2008 by the University of Aberdeen. This study was then updated with corrections, to be more accurate in June 2010.