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Landscape Matters

Wind Farm Developers could Dump 15,500 Tonnes of Concrete in Scottish Mountains

Monday 22nd October 2012

Press Release                     22nd October 2012

Wind Farm Developers could Dump 15,500 Tonnes of Concrete in Scottish Mountains

Allt Duine Inquiry Must Protect our Natural Environment

Mountaineers have highlighted serious environmental concerns at the start of a public inquiry into proposals for a huge commercial wind farm in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.

Evidence to the Allt Duine Wind Farm Inquiry, starting on 22 October, from the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS), shows that proposals for 31 huge turbines by developers RWE npower could permanently scar the landscape. According to the developer’s proposals, it does not even plan to clear up afterwards. After the wind farm, planned for near Aviemore, closes it would leave:

  • 31 huge concrete bases – each consisting of 500 tonnes of steel and concrete – to decay
  • 24km of redundant 6m-wide tracks through what is currently wild land.

David Gibson, MCofS Chief Officer, said: “We support green energy generation but this scheme involves dumping 15,500 tonnes of concrete and miles of roads in mountain areas of national importance and beauty. Wind farms are supposed to have a lifetime of 25 years; we would therefore expect developers to include proposals for site restitution in their plans as evidence of good stewardship of the environment. This public inquiry should protect our precious natural environment by putting a stop to this completely inappropriate project.”

The MCofS is also concerned that maps being presented to the inquiry by the developers fail to show that their turbines would come within 67 metres of an area designated by SNH as Zone 3 - being of such sensitivity that there should be an automatic presumption against wind farms.

Mr Gibson said: “These huge turbines are each 125m high. One is so close to a Zone 3 area that if it toppled over it would land inside. This is an area which is so special that wind farm development should not take place. As you might expect we are astonished that the developer has omitted this essential information from their proposal.

“The MCofS does not oppose wind farms – but it is determined to fight hard to protect sensitive areas like the Monadhliadth Mountains as these are such important parts of our natural heritage and of economic importance to our tourism industry. These proposals would not only have a very real impact on the nearby Cairngorms National Park, which is a jewel in Scotland’s crown of natural beauty, but also be visible from a vast number of Scotland’s mountains across a wide area surrounding the Monadhliadth.”

The MCofS speaks for more than 85,000 UK mountaineers on landscape issues in Scotland and is vigorously opposing the Allt Duine proposals, which are among seven schemes that could lead to a total of over 230 turbines, along with huge stretches of service tracks, being built across the central rampart of the Highlands.

The MCofS has recently sent its manifesto, Protecting our Mountains, to the First Minister, other MSPs, MPs representing Scottish constituencies and local councillors in eight local authorities. The document calls for a moratorium on further developments in areas of special sensitivity, such as the Munros and Corbetts which are Scotland’s highest peaks, and seeks the support of elected representatives for the development of a national spatial planning policy for the siting of wind farms

Mr Gibson said: “It’s time for the First Minister to stop dodging the questions about the impact of wind farms on the landscape. Platitudes will not protect the landscape for future generations. Our President has asked for a meeting with Scotland’s Environment Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, to discuss our proposals for harmonising the need for clean energy with the protection of our landscape – which is one of Scotland’s greatest cultural and economic assets. As yet the Minister has not suggested a date, but we hope that he will recognise that this is a matter of urgency.”

Ends

Notes for editors

  • Pictures are available and free to use on request or from the DropBox links below:

1) The Allt Duine https://dl.dropbox.com/u/28909941/1.%20The%20Allt%20Duine%20itself.jpg

2) The hills at the heart of the proposed wind farm https://dl.dropbox.com/u/28909941/2.The%20Allt%20Duine%20hills%20%E2%80%93%20this%20will%20be%20the%20heart%20of%20the%20wind%20farm.jpg

3) Across the Allt Duine from the Corbett Carn an Fhreiceadain https://dl.dropbox.com/u/28909941/3.%20Looking%20across%20the%20Allt%20Duine%20hills%20from%20the%20summit%20of%20the%20Corbett%20Carn%20an%20Fhreiceadain.jpg

4) Heart of the Allt Duine hills https://dl.dropbox.com/u/28909941/4.%20In%20the%20heart%20of%20the%20Allt%20Duine%20hills%20between%20the%20two%20Corbetts%20with%20Geal-charn%20Mor%20on%20the%20right..jpg

5) Allt Duine https://dl.dropbox.com/u/28909941/Allt%20Duine-1.jpg

  • The companies behind the Monadhliadth Mountains schemes include RWE npower, Falck, SSE and RES.
  • Munros are mountains with peaks over 3,000ft and Corbetts are 2,500-3,000ft.
  • For details of Zone 3 areas see the SNH Strategic Locational Guidance for Onshore Windfarms in Respect of the Natural Heritage at http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/A247182.pdf.

About the MCofS

  • Contact David Gibson 07845 919 150 or davidg@mcofs.org.uk or call 01738 493 947 in normal office hours.
  • The MCofS represents, supports and promotes Scottish mountaineering. Founded in 1970 by the Association of Scottish Climbing Clubs, MCofS is the only recognised representative organisation for hill walkers, climbers and ski-tourers who live in Scotland or who enjoy Scotland’s mountains.
  • The MCofS also acts for members of the BMC or British Mountaineering Council on matters related to Landscape and Access. The organisation provides training and information to mountain users to promotes safety, self-reliance and the enjoyment of our mountain environment.
  • MCofS has 11,400 members, representing hill walkers, climbers and mountaineers, funded through a combination of membership subscriptions; non-governmental grants; and investment from sportscotland, which supports public initiatives and services in mountain safety, mountain weather information services, mountain leader training and the development and promotion of mountaineering activities. MCofS is a not for profit company limited by guarantee and incorporated in Scotland. Company number SC322717.
  • For further information about the MCofS and for our manifesto, Protecting our Mountains: The MCofS Manifesto on Onshore Wind Farms, see lps.asp