Wind farm plans are dis-turbine the peace

LOCAL action group ‘Stop Loch Lomond Wind Turbines’ held an open presentation evening last week to voice their opposition to proposed wind farms in the area.

Over 150 people attended the forum which featured a series of talks from some of the country’s most prominent conservationists.

The event, held in Gartocharn last Thursday, addressed proposed sites on Merkins Farm, on the Kilpatrick Hills, and at Ard Ghaoth, just north of Drymen.

Rhona Weir, widow of iconic activist Tom Weir MBE, opened the proceedings with a tribute to her late husband’s legacy of battling the development of wind farms.

Helen McDade, head of policy for the John Muir Trust, then led a detailed talk demonstrating the visual impact of large scale wind farms on previously untouched ‘wild sites’.

Her concerns were furthered by Professor Iain MacLeod, Vice-President of the Institution of Engineers and Ship-builders in Scotland, who analysed the technical issues associated with wind generation and its impact on the national grid.

The final lecture was delivered by Struan Stevenson, Conservative MEP for Scotland and President of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development.

Mr Stevenson criticised the Scottish Government’s ‘unrealistic’ energy policies.

He said: “Their aim of making the country 100 per cent reliant on renewable energy by 2020 is unachievable.

“But we are beginning to see the success of well-organised community action groups and public pressure in opposing such destructive plans and having them thrown out.

“Politicians from across the political spectrum must be persuaded that a more balanced energy policy that is less reliant on the dubious qualities of wind turbines is in everyone’s interests.

“That’s why I will be urging concerned people to write to their councillors, MSPs and MPs to state their opposition.”

Mr Stevenson also claimed the SNP would have to build a further 5,000 turbines in nine years for their energy goals to be theoretically viable.

He also raised questions about the unreliability of wind power due to its intermittent nature.

The firm behind the Ard Ghaoth site, Banks Renewables, have defended their plans and insist that public concerns have been considered.

Last year, the company commissioned a independent survey found that public opinion in the neighbouring areas was split.

The report stated that 34 per cent of those polled supported the proposed wind farm, while 35 per cent did not.

Colin Anderson, director of Banks Renewables, said: “The Ard Ghaoth wind farm would produce enough renewable energy to meet the annual electricity consumptions needs of thousands of homes, along with employment and commercial opportunities for local firms in the construction phase of the scheme.

“We are encouraged by the positive feedback we’ve had about our plans from local people who recognise the importance of generating more of the energy we all use from renewable sources, and we will continue to liaise closely with all interested parties as we move towards finalising our planning application.”

Banks have recently completed work on a 60m test mast they say will help to inform the development of the site.

Full planning papers for the wind farm are expected to be submitted in the spring.