Article

Row over mansion 'ruined' by wind farm

It is a baroque masterpiece designed by one of the world's greatest architects and among the north of Scotland's biggest tourist attractions. Looming above are pieces of 21st-century engineering kit that rise to 330 feet above the skyline. Now, Scotland's cultural watchdog, Historic Scotland, has been accused of failing to protect the 18th-century Duff House from the effects of massive wind turbines.

It isa baroque masterpiece designed by one of the world's greatest architects and among the north of Scotland's biggest tourist attractions.
Looming above are pieces of 21st-century engineering kit that rise to 330 feet above the skyline.

Now, Scotland's cultural watchdog, Historic Scotland, has been accused of failing to protect the 18th-century Duff House from the effects of massive wind turbines.

Duff House, designed by William Adam at Banff on the Moray Firth, looks as if it has "sprouted horns from the roof" and developed "Mickey Mouse ears", say critics. Classic views of the magnificent mansion will be spoiled for the thousands on annual visitors.

A leading authority on landscape and design has described the affair as "a very Scottish shambles" and called for a clear policy on the siting of turbines near historic buildings. Buildings and ancient monuments contribute 2.3 billion a year to the Scottish economy through tourism and employment.

Peter Wilson, a director of the School of the Built Environment at Edinburgh Napier University, said: "There is quite evidently a lack of clear policy on wind turbines where their possible siting is in close proximity to... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

It is a baroque masterpiece designed by one of the world's greatest architects and among the north of Scotland's biggest tourist attractions.
Looming above are pieces of 21st-century engineering kit that rise to 330 feet above the skyline.

Now, Scotland's cultural watchdog, Historic Scotland, has been accused of failing to protect the 18th-century Duff House from the effects of massive wind turbines.

Duff House, designed by William Adam at Banff on the Moray Firth, looks as if it has "sprouted horns from the roof" and developed "Mickey Mouse ears", say critics. Classic views of the magnificent mansion will be spoiled for the thousands on annual visitors.

A leading authority on landscape and design has described the affair as "a very Scottish shambles" and called for a clear policy on the siting of turbines near historic buildings. Buildings and ancient monuments contribute £2.3 billion a year to the Scottish economy through tourism and employment.

Peter Wilson, a director of the School of the Built Environment at Edinburgh Napier University, said: "There is quite evidently a lack of clear policy on wind turbines where their possible siting is in close proximity to historic buildings."

He was backed by Professor Charles McKean of Dundee University and author of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland architectural guide to Banff and surrounding area. He said: "It is most extraordinarily bizarre that the skyline and setting of one of Europe's truly great houses should have been compromised in this way.

"The whole point of Duff House was that it dwarfed its surroundings to demonstrate the power and eminence of its builder. All the engravings show it as the tallest building in the Deveron Valley, towering over the port of Macduff and the town of Banff.

"It seems to be silly to compromise the dignity of the house with a pair of Mickey Mouse ears sticking out of the roof."

Peter Drummond, chairman of the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, added: "Although it's not quite putting a pyramid in the middle of the Louvre, it does rather leave the house looking like it's grown a pair of horns."

Duff House was built between 1735 and 1740 for William Duff of Braco, later the Earl of Fife. In the 20th-century - after passing out of family hands - it went through various guises including a sanatorium and a prisoner of war camp. Deserted after the Second World War, the decaying building was rescued in the 1990s through the efforts of Sir Timothy Clifford, then director of the National Galleries of Scotland.

It became home to the nation's country house art collection, attracting up to 30,000 visitors a year, and now plays a central role in Moray Firth's annual visual arts festival.

The two turbines - planning permission has recently been granted for a third - are part of the rush by farmers in rural areas throughout Scotland to both generate more energy from renewable power sources and earn more income.

Agricultural firm A J Duncan expects to earn hundreds of thousands of pounds per year from siting the turbines on its land at Strath of Brydock, Alvah, three miles south of Banff.

Duff House is not the only A graded historic building threatened by the development. The 16th-century Inchdrewer House, which is in private ownership, is only 3,700 feet from the nearest turbine.

But although Historic Scotland objected to a "significant" visual impact that the turbines would have on uninhabited Inchdrewer House, it claims it could not make the same case for Duff House. During the planning process, it only noted its "concern".

A spokesman said the turbines were too far away from Duff House for it to object on the basis that they would interfere with the setting of a listed building. "The setting of things is quite tightly defined. The setting of the Scott Monument (in Edinburgh] for instance is probably just the ground it sits on."

But one source close to Historic Scotland said: "There are a lot of people going about wondering why HS only 'notes' things but doesn't do anything."

The first two turbines were approved by Aberdeenshire councillors in 2007 even though planning officials had recommended they should be rejected. They are sited within the Holyrood constituency of the SNP cabinet minister Stewart Stevenson and the Westminster constituency of Alex Salmond, the Gordon MP and First Minister in Scotland.

The SNP is an advocate of renewable energy. Called in to make the final decision on granting planning permission for the turbines, the government dismissed all objections and granted approval.

Country house with a proud history

Scotland's premier country house gallery, Duff House is operated by a partnership of Historic Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland and Aberdeenshire Council. One of the finest Georgian Baroque mansions in Britain, it was designed by Scottish architect William Adam, also well-known for his design of Hopetoun House on the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh.

The house was built between 1735 and 1740 for William Duff of Braco, later the Earl of Fife and an MP. However, it is thought that he himself never actually lived here as he was unhappy with the ongoing building work. In the 20th century Duff House was in turn a palm court hotel, a sanatorium and a prisoner of war camp. Opened as a country house gallery after extensive restoration in 1995, it now enjoys five-star visitor attraction status and boasts a vast range of art treasures, beautifully furnished rooms and the 4,000-volume Dunimarle Library.


Source: http://scotlandonsunday.sco...

AUG 9 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/21642-row-over-mansion-ruined-by-wind-farm
back to top