Scots air opposing views on wind farms
Opinion is sharply divided over turbines being built in the scenic Highlands
Since 2007, Scottish ministers have approved 32 onshore wind-farms, one offshore wind-farm, 19 hydro, four wave and tidal projects, along with 18 non-renewable projects, while consent has been refused for nine more onshore wind-farms.
Last month, energy minister Fergus Ewing turned down plans for a 69MW, 23-turbine farm at Druim Ba on the Blairmore Estate, outside Drumnadrochit on the shores of Loch Ness, saying that he would not approve green energy “at any cost”, saying it must be environmentally acceptable.
If opinion is less split in Lairg, it is so elsewhere. Sitting in his shed at his home in Middle Cairncake, near Cuminestown, Nick Orpwood thinks little of the Scottish government’s promises, pointing to a map showing the number of turbines built, or on the way in Aberdeenshire.
So far, 711 turbines have been approved, while a final decision is outstanding on 227 more. Almost 400 have been refused, while “you only have to be directly notified of an application if it is within 66 feet of your house”, Orpwood says.
He acknowledges that all protesters will be regarded as “nimbys”, though he points out that he has an 80-metre high turbine little more than 1km from his property to which he does not object, though a neighbour’s house vibrates because of it.
“A sensible distance would be that one could not be erected if it is within two kilometres of somebody’s house. We are not against turbines, we are against the effect they have on people,” he says. The wind farms are causing tensions in tight-knit rural areas, he points out, where some locals object to having to put up with turbines that will make significant sums for the land-owners during their life-times, up to £8,000 from each per year.
Objecting to four 360ft turbines near its Lossiemouth base, the Royal Air Force, for its own reasons, is beginning to share doubters’ fears, warning that it could endanger Typhoons returning to their home north-west of Aberdeen.
Currently, RAF jets steer six miles clear of any turbines, though senior officers – who have successfully opposed scores of planning applications – say life is becoming increasingly difficult because of the numbers that are going up.
Tomorrow: The Scottish