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Warning of 'ugly mechanical forests' if Highland wind farms get go-ahead

UP TO 20 per cent of the Highlands would be visually blighted by wind farms if a draft renewables strategy for the region is approved, councillors were warned yesterday.

They also heard a call for a moratorium on all wind-farm projects until a new strategy is drawn up.

Highland Council is consulting on a range of possible green energy developments to help meet the government's renewables targets.

Last year, renewable schemes produced 506 megawatts of power in the Highlands, but this could rise to 1,480Mw by 2010, 4,800Mw by 2020 and up to 14,000Mw by 2050.

Eleven preferred sites in Caithness, Sutherland, Ross-shire and Inverness-shire have been identified where major wind farms could be built, while offshore wind developments would be limited to the outer Moray Firth, along the coast off Dounreay and west of the Small Isles.

Ten possible sites for wave generation, including off north Skye and Duncansby Head in Caithness, have been earmarked. Specific zones for hydro plans have not been identified and bio-energy schemes are expected to arise in existing forest areas.

The council has been notified of more than 40 potential onshore wind-farm developments, with keen interest also in marine energy resources.

Those drawing up the consultation strategy say there is a need for cleaner forms of energy and a reduction in carbon emissions, while maximising employment and income, and... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

They also heard a call for a moratorium on all wind-farm projects until a new strategy is drawn up.
 
Highland Council is consulting on a range of possible green energy developments to help meet the government's renewables targets.
 
Last year, renewable schemes produced 506 megawatts of power in the Highlands, but this could rise to 1,480Mw by 2010, 4,800Mw by 2020 and up to 14,000Mw by 2050.
 
Eleven preferred sites in Caithness, Sutherland, Ross-shire and Inverness-shire have been identified where major wind farms could be built, while offshore wind developments would be limited to the outer Moray Firth, along the coast off Dounreay and west of the Small Isles.
 
Ten possible sites for wave generation, including off north Skye and Duncansby Head in Caithness, have been earmarked. Specific zones for hydro plans have not been identified and bio-energy schemes are expected to arise in existing forest areas.
 
The council has been notified of more than 40 potential onshore wind-farm developments, with keen interest also in marine energy resources.
 
Those drawing up the consultation strategy say there is a need for cleaner forms of energy and a reduction in carbon emissions, while maximising employment and income, and protecting the environment.
 
A report by a working group examining the renewables issue says: "The aim is to harness both the energy and economic potential presented by renewable technologies in the Highland area to provide benefit for both the global environment and local communities.
 
"Renewable energy projects will be developed in ways that protect the integrity of particularly valued sites, maximise local and regional benefits and minimise or avoid negative consequences."
 
David Henderson, a local economist, told councillors yesterday that renewables would be the most important planning matter the council had confronted for a long time. "Your decision on this will determine the character and quality of the Highlands landscape for many years and possibly irrevocably," he said.
 
He claimed the region's natural beauty could be destroyed by "ugly mechanical forests", while "sacrificial zones" would earmark areas considered of lower scenic importance as second class.
 
"The beauty of the Highlands is an integral whole. How can you possibly say that some parts are second rate? Our region's world reputation hinges on the fact that it is a large integral and essentially unspoilt area of natural beauty, not a residual core that has been nibbled away and reduced on the fringes by huge unsightly developments.
 
"If this strategy goes ahead, I estimate 20 per cent of the landmass of the region will be visually blighted. New images of the Highlands as a landscape dominated by wind turbines will be circulated and our reputation will become tarnished. It will be an inexorable, inevitable, long-term process of degradation and decline of landscape and beauty and reputation."
 
Mr Henderson, formerly in charge of economic development for Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said tourism would also pay a heavy price, with many small communities dependent on visitor income.
 
He said payments to communities from wind-farm companies should be seen as bribes to get planning permission. "Local communities do not have the right to sell off part of the Highlands for their own localised profit," he said.
 
Judith Hodgson, of the Skye Wind Farm Action Group, said the strategy was a "dog's dinner" and called for a moratorium on wind farms while the council went back to the drawing board.
 
Stuart Mills, of the Caithness Wind Farms Information Forum, said the strategy presented unrealistic targets and would affect tourism and the environment.
 
Views from yesterday's meeting will be discussed at a planning meeting on 19 April and a policy finalised on 4 May.


Source: http://news.scotsman.com/sc...

MAR 23 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/1829-warning-of-ugly-mechanical-forests-if-highland-wind-farms-get-go-ahead
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