Scandal on the Braes

Friends of the Braes|March 1, 2007
United Kingdom (UK)GeneralImpact on LandscapeErosionPollutionZoning/Planning

An indictment of the Scottish Executive and regulatory incompetence and indifference......‘One is left with a clear impression of inertia, bungling, duplicity, poor communication, procrastination, obfuscation and, quite frankly, shoddy and incorrect decision-taking both in temporal and technical terms'.

Selected Extracts


REVIEWING THIS report before publication, a respected conservationist wrote to the author that ‘One is left with a clear impression of inertia, bungling, duplicity, poor communication, procrastination, obfuscation and, quite frankly, shoddy and incorrect decision-taking both in temporal and technical terms'.

This is a harsh judgement but a reasonable one. The report asks if the Scottish Executive complied with the European Union's Environmental Impact Assessment and Habitats Directives when it consented the project and shows that it didn't.

It queries whether the EIA Directive has even been properly transposed into Scottish law and explains why, in all probability, it hasn't.

It examines the role of the designated authorities - Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and Stirling Council - in ensuring the integrity of the River Teith Special Area of Conservation and argues that the stringent requirements of the Habitats Directive have not been met.

It contrasts the assurances that these agencies gave politicians and others that all was well with the project (that the pollution of the site's waterways was ‘surprisingly' benign) with the almost militant stance eventually taken by the project's own ecological team and describes some of the problems they encountered.

It outlines an independent pilot study conducted by Stirling University's respected Centre for River Restoration Science. Using a different methodology from SEPA's, it produced a much less reassuring analysis of the effects of construction activity on the integrity of the River Teith SAC.

It explains how it fell to the public at large to fund, organise and conduct the photographic, political and scientific research without which this scandal - for such it is - would never have been uncovered.

Finally, it reveals a series of breaches of environmental law and of good ecological practice. Their gravity is outwith the author's purview - it remains to be seen what response, if any, decision-makers in Scotland can be persuaded to make.

However, as a first step, Friends of the Braes has undertaken to pass the report to the EU's Environment Commissioner as supplementary information to the complaint submitted in 2006.

The Braes of Doune wind farm and CO2 savings

Airtricity's web site claims that the project will save 173,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. This is a gross exaggeration. A displacement of 173,000 tonnes CO2/year from 72 MW of generation capacity, even assuming an above average 32 per cent yield, equates to 860 gms CO2 per unit of electricity generated. This figure, often quoted by the British Wind Energy Association, has been branded as misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority unless qualified. Electricity generation overall does not emit as much CO2 as that although coal-fired plant does.

The DTI's widely accepted 430 gms/kWh figure predicts a rather more reasonable 81,000 tonnes/year but even then the calculation assumes (absurdly) that fuel displacement is 100 per cent efficient. It isn't.



Scandalonthe Braes Lo Res

March 13, 2013

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