/ Wind Farm Proposal - Flow Country, N Scotland

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AllanMac - on 19 Oct 2016

The Flow Country in Caithness could potentially become a UNESCO World Heritage Site because its ecology is unique, and of world significance. The peat blanket bog has been, and still is, is a highly efficient absorber of CO2, and disturbing it in order to construct the turbine foundations and infrastructure roads would release tons of it into the atmosphere.

Quote from an article in New Scientist: "...peat is the largest and most efficient land-based store of carbon, and the world£s second largest carbon store after the oceans":

https://www.newscientist.com/£/dn13034-peatland-destructio£/

Edit - Creag Riabhach Wind Farm website:

http://crwf.co.uk/benefits.html
What are your thoughts?
Post edited at 12:10
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bennett_leather - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to AllanMac:

I'm sure that release of CO2 would be more than outweighed by the reduction of CO2 from fossil fuel based electricity generation.
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AllanMac - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to bennett_leather:

What makes you so sure?

I'd like to see some stats if you have any.
Dave Perry - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to bennett_leather:

But we'd loose the fine wilderness we have. I assume living in Manchester you don't care about the environment in Scotland?

Anyway I think you are missing the point. It doesn't have to be either a, or b.
1
Clint86 - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to AllanMac:

If I was in charge I would cover the Southern Uplands in windfarms.

Seems to me that the North of Scotland still suffers from overgrazing and a lack of tree cover.
6
PeterM - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to AllanMac:
It's unfortunately been approved. The peat angle is hugely important. Just like oil, we should be leaving the CO2 in the ground. Windfarms are also destroying one of our best features/resources - the landscape. We should be looking at wave and tidal instead of buggering up one of our finest resources .. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-37677185 http://www.mcofs.org.uk/assets/media/mcofs_response_to_creag_riabhach_wind_farm_further_representati...
See paragraph 5 here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/islandblogging/blogs/005132/0000007390.shtml This is what we should have been investing in..and there was an article recently hinting that the Chinese stole this idea, literally, while on a visit to Scotland some years back. All very spy-thriller: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/10/mysterious-factory-break-in-raises-suspicions-about-ch...
Post edited at 13:03
1
Lusk - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to AllanMac: bennett_leather:

> What makes you so sure?
> I'd like to see some stats if you have any.

Oh, was that tumbleweed blowing outside my window?
3
Bootrock on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to bennett_leather:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uz6xOFWi4A


the impact on local wildlife is huge. The SNP hasn't commissioned a census of Birds of Prey because they know it's taken a huge hit. I remember reading an article about it, will try and find it, but apparently the population of raptors in Scotland has dropped considerably.

I am all for renewables but not this corrupt and current system we have.

Why not introduce legislation for all new housing to have Solar Panels?
Why not stick solar, wind and wave/hydro turbines together and put them out to sea?

Fossil Fuel companies should be made to pay a tax/fund towards green energy or a cooperation of cleaner fossils and green renewables.


But there's far too many people getting rich to change the system. So we are all stuffed.
AllanMac - on 19 Oct 2016

> bennett_leather:

> Oh, was that tumbleweed blowing outside my window?

No, just your own apathy.
jkarran - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to AllanMac:
> What makes you so sure?

Well you could do a back of the fag packet calculation.

Service road 20km x 4m x 1m = 80,000m3
Turbine bases 25m dia x 3m = 70,000m3
Turbines lets say 50
150,000m3 total

Let's say that's 33% by mass carbon, peat is very boggy after all and hydrogen is light
Carbon weighs ~2T/m3
That's 0.33*150,000*2 = 100,000T of carbon

CO2 is ~1/3 carbon 2/3 oxygen, carbon and oxygen weigh very roughly the same so 100kt of carbon makes 300,000T of CO2 which certainly sounds like a lot but this is of course assuming all the peat disturbed is oxidised, most of it will just be moved aside making the bog slightly deeper locally. Also it may not actually be a very big number. Let's see.

A decent size land based turbine makes 5MW peak, that's 250MW from 50 of them but with a load factor of maybe 30% so let's say 80MW average over what, 25 years (a guesstimate but it seems reasonable).

365days *24Hours *25years = 220,000 Hours
80M*220K = 1.7x10^13 WattH
x60x60 to get Joules generated over the instalations's life: 6.3x01^16 Joules

Methane has an energy density of 55MJ/kg so assuming 100% conversion efficiency that's basically 1.2 million Tons of natural gas saved.

Actual conversion efficiency is more like 40% at best so that's 2.8MT of natural gas which is mostly carbon by weight (C4H10), let's say 2.5MT carbon.

As we saw before, CO2 is roughly 3 times the weight of the carbon used to make it so that's: 7.5MTon of carbon dioxide not released because of those 50 turbines.

So is 300,000T a big number? Undoubtably yes but most of that peat we accounted for won't become CO2 as a result of the build and even if it somehow did, 7,500,000 is a much bigger number!

Interesting exercise, I didn't know which way that would go when I started out on it.

Obviously one also has to manufacture the turbines and concrete but that goes for thermal stations too which have broadly comparable lifetimes and material demands.
jk
Post edited at 14:05
1
damhan-allaidh on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to AllanMac:

I'm against the idea more for conservation and aesthetic value. I know offshore wind farms are (at the moment) much more expensive than onshore, but I wonder if that's a better option? We do risk destroying an important and unique semi-natural wilderness here and perhaps elsewhere. It's also an iconic pre-historic, historical and modern landscape. I know global climate change is a 'big thing' but tackling the problem has to include more finely nuanced range of solutions than carpeting the landscape in turbines.

(I have to declare a sentimental interest. My PhD was an environmental history of the area and I would just like to see it left alone to get on with itself in peace and quiet; perhaps a few sheep, deer or goats grazing and a bit of peat cutting to promote biodiversity.)
felt - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to jkarran:

Could you do my self-assessment tax return in January, please?
ring ouzel on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to Bootrock:

Why would the SNP need to census raptors? The BTO already do that.
I have spent hours and hours searching for carcasses around turbine bases. I have found red grouse but no raptors (or bats). I know of two instances where raptors have been found on the wind farms I've been involved with. Early wind farms that didn't take migration paths into account were really bad for chopping raptors but all that changed years ago. Several years before anybody else knows about a potential wind farm people like me are doing Vantage Point counts tracking all birds (including flight height, time, direction etc.) just so we don't put turbines where they will affect birds. If I find a red-throated or black-throated diver that means I need to get a minimum of 15 flight paths from their breeding pool. They fly out at dawn so for over a week there will be ornithologists lying there mapping flight lines etc. Very boring work!

Are raptor pops falling? Depends on the raptor but any raptor (other than merlin or kestrel) that tries to breed on a grouse moor will invariably fail. The whole practice of grouse shooting needs to be stopped.

Wind farms at the minute are not thought through, there is no national strategy, too many are built by rich land owners so they can make more money, no account is taken of the actual amount of peat that will be disturbed (cos no one ever knows how much is there) and visually they upset lots of people. I don't like them on peatlands, I'd ban the lot but I do think we need them. Maybe in small groups along roads etc as they do in Germany.

So I think they are bit like the curate's egg.


toad - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to ring ouzel:

My understanding is that the amount of peat lost from individual turbine foundations is relatively small, the bigger issue on shallow blanket peat is the access roads effectively damming the hydrology.

The flow country is somewhere I've always wanted to go to, but never quite managed. Work tends not to look that far north for hydrological monitoring jobs, and my mrs frankly refuses to go somewhere quite so rich in invertebrate blood sucking fiends.
Bootrock on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to ring ouzel:

> Why would the SNP need to census raptors? The BTO already do that.

As far as I was aware the SNP weren't allowing it, I am trying to dig out the article but I can't find it. I would like your opinion on it when I find it.

> I have spent hours and hours searching for carcasses around turbine bases. I have found red grouse but no raptors (or bats). I know of two instances where raptors have been found on the wind farms I've been involved with. Early wind farms that didn't take migration paths into account were really bad for chopping raptors but all that changed years ago. Several years before anybody else knows about a potential wind farm people like me are doing Vantage Point counts tracking all birds (including flight height, time, direction etc.) just so we don't put turbines where they will affect birds. If I find a red-throated or black-throated diver that means I need to get a minimum of 15 flight paths from their breeding pool. They fly out at dawn so for over a week there will be ornithologists lying there mapping flight lines etc. Very boring work!

That actually sounds incredibly interesting. Out of interest in your opinion, do windfarms affect birds in a big way?
It sounds like the article I read was out of date.

> Are raptor pops falling? Depends on the raptor but any raptor (other than merlin or kestrel) that tries to breed on a grouse moor will invariably fail. The whole practice of grouse shooting needs to be stopped.
Seen.

> Wind farms at the minute are not thought through, there is no national strategy, too many are built by rich land owners so they can make more money, no account is taken of the actual amount of peat that will be disturbed (cos no one ever knows how much is there) and visually they upset lots of people. I don't like them on peatlands, I'd ban the lot but I do think we need them. Maybe in small groups along roads etc as they do in Germany.

I agree, again I don't know why they don't combine, and work together?
Are there still government grants for companies doing it?

cheers for you reply, sounds pretty interesting.

Lord_ash2000 - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to AllanMac:

Its interesting one to ponder. Build wind turbines to save the environment. Only there isn't any environment left because its now all peppered with huge wind turbines and hydro plants and all the rest of it.
summo on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to ring ouzel:

> Why would the SNP need to census raptors?

because it's something else to blame England about, English companies, English wind farm policy, the rich English elite owning land in Scotland... stoke that nationalist fire?
4
wintertree - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to Dave Perry:

> Anyway I think you are missing the point. It doesn't have to be either a, or b.

Quite. To do away with fossil fuel including current non-electrical uses (cars, heating, heavy industry), it needs to be a+b+c+d+e+f and g.

As noted earlier the case for the disruption of a peat ecology to displace CO2 emitting generation is not clear cut without expert advice. I hope to see some shared on here. Edit: I missed jkarran's informative post! Likewise I had no gut feeling for which way the numbers would go. Somehow despite living surrounded by peat bogs I don't know much about them.
Post edited at 16:01
summo on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to Lord_ash2000:

> Its interesting one to ponder. Build wind turbines to save the environment. Only there isn't any environment left because its now all peppered with huge wind turbines and hydro plants and all the rest of it.

Once the moorlands and valleys are reforested though, those turbines etc.. will all be hidden away.
summo on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to wintertree:

> As noted earlier the case for the disruption of a peat ecology to displace CO2 emitting generation is not clear cut without expert advice. I hope to see some shared on here. Edit: I missed jkarran's informative post!

think the amount of concrete required for a base on peat versus bed rock must be pretty significant too. Plus the use of resources to transport the energy to the other end of the country where it's needed.
ring ouzel on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to toad:

Depends on your ECoW and BoP contractor Toad. I can make sure you build tracks which don't dam (or damn!) the hydrology, that's relatively easy and I'm doing it at the moment on 15kms of new track across grouse moor. Turbine bases and crane pads have to go down to bedrock though so they can take the weight of the component lorries. That can affect hydrology unless you mitigate for it. Every wind farm should have a drainage plan which take that into account. I have worked on wind farms with no drainage plan. I stopped the works. I was not popular!!

The Flow Country is a very sad place. Sitting there at dawn or dusk, not another soul for miles around and yet you are surrounded by ruined houses from the Clearances. You can still feel that a great wrong was done there. Spooky.
galpinos on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to summo:

> think the amount of concrete required for a base on peat versus bed rock must be pretty significant too. Plus the use of resources to transport the energy to the other end of the country where it's needed.

I'm a bit baffled why it'd need to be transported to the other end of the country? Is there that much power generated in that part of the country they want to export it? I assumed it would be used locally negating the need to use electricity that had been generated in the south?
ring ouzel on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to Bootrock:

In my experience wind farms no longer affect negatively affect bird populations. We know a lot more about where to put them and in many cases there is little in the way of bird life to start with (grouse moors again). Cant say the same for bats. I have never found bats around turbines but I know it happens. However I don't know the population size of any British bats (no one does) so I don't know if killing a few bats is a bad thing for the population or not. Its taken us 30 years and millions of man hours by thousands of volunteers to get us to the stage where we know bird population numbers. I don't expect we will ever get to the same degree of accuracy with bats.

Working together?? Away with you bringing common sense to the debate. You'll get nowhere with that attitude young man! Building a wind farm is still a very individual thing. I know of several wind farms where the landowner went grouse shooting on a neighbouring estate that had a wind farm and then came back and said he'd like one too. Money in from shooting and money in from the wind farm. Easy when you have 50 000+ acres to play with!!
jkarran - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to summo:
https://corporate.vattenfall.co.uk/globalassets/uk/projects/south-kyle/ocms-1-road-and-wind-turbine-construction.pdf

Seems my guess for foundation size was in the ballpark, out by a factor of 2 in volume but the right (pessimistic) side.

edit: what energy transport resources do you refer to? There must be a pretty hefty HT line running south from Dounreay already.
jk
Post edited at 16:11
summo on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to galpinos:

> I'm a bit baffled why it'd need to be transported to the other end of the country? Is there that much power generated in that part of the country they want to export it? I assumed it would be used locally negating the need to use electricity that had been generated in the south?

up to 72MW sounds like quite a large amount, roughly 1MW per 1000 homes ( I think). I imagine there is sufficient generation in that part of the world already?
summo on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to jkarran:

> : what energy transport resources do you refer to? There must be a pretty hefty HT line running south from Dounreay already.

perhaps there is, it just seems generation is being positioned along way from the end user. Must be a bit of breeze in the Cotswolds to spin a few turbines.

ring ouzel on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to summo:

Exactly! Well except for the turbines and their components which are all made in Denmark and all assembled by Danish crews. Oh and many of the landowners I am dealing with are Scottish. Oh and the Balance of Plant crews who may be Scottish but could just as easily be Welsh or Irish. Several developers I have worked with are Scottish, Norwegian or German (no English ones). But apart from the turbine crews, the landowners, the Balance of Plant contractors and the developers; it's English all the way - not!
galpinos on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to summo:

The most northerly "power station" is Peterhead. There's a fair bit of wind up there already but that's it, seems sensible to me?
Martin W on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to AllanMac:

> Edit - Creag Riabhach Wind Farm website:


Is that the wind farm you mean? As far as I can see it's on the lower slopes of Meall an Fhuarain (perhaps the name Creag Riabhach is a clue?) which doesn't look to me like a classic "flow" landform. The Core Area of Wild Land (CAWL) that it impinges on is number 37, Foinaven and Ben Hee - again, hills not flows. That said, the land immediately to the west of the wind farm does look fairly flow-like, but it's not in the heart of the 'classic' Flow Country (which could simplistically be taken to encompass CAWLs 36 & 39, which are a fair way to the east). That wind farm is also immediately adjacent to (but AFAICS not actually in) one of the areas which fall within the Caithness and Sutherland Peatlands Special Area of Conservation.

There's another wind farm, Strathy South, being proposed much closer to (arguably in) the classic Flow Country area. It seems to be bigger than Creag Riabhach (39 turbines vs 22) but situated within an area of commercial forestry. On the other hand, I'd not be surprised if that commercial forestry itself destroyed a classic flow landform when it was originally planted - there was a lot of that going on there in the early 1908s. From what I can find out online, the final decision on Strathy South is due from the Scottish Government once the report from the public inquiry (which was held over a year ago) has been submitted.

Note also that there is already a wind farm at Strathy North, about 5km north of the Strathy South site.
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AllanMac - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to jkarran:

Blimey - Really appreciate your input, even though it probably isn't what I want to hear!

I'll put my cards on the table: Being a wishy-washy artistic type who deeply appreciates the aesthetics of landscape and what remains of wild areas throughout the UK, I was wondering if there was also a technical angle that would give weight to the argument against onshore windfarms - especially where they are sited damagingly and clumsily in areas of high aesthetic and wildlife value. The aesthetic argument in isolation seems not to have sufficient weight in altering decisions made in the planning process, yet is perceived (not least by me) as being hugely important. The aesthetic is regularly overridden by the technical - probably because it is quantifiable, plus stats and technicalities are almost exclusively what the planning process understands.

On qualitative grounds, my own opinion is that the Creag Riabhach scheme is an unrivalled and spectacular act of vandalism, made legitimate by a series of bribes masquerading as local benefit. It makes a mockery of the now pointless SNH wild land map and defuses the potential for UNESCO designation as a World Heritage Site.

As I said, you've done a grand job of clarifying some technical questions - but can I ask what your view is of the aesthetic impact? I ask because I'm having trouble in reconciling the seeming acceptance of what amounts to the industrialisation of uplands, with a love of the hills.

AllanMac - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

Agree wholeheartedly.

It seems to me that the siting of windfarms is based not so much on a desire to 'save the planet', but more to do with a clamour for generous subsidies, no matter what damage will be done.
AllanMac - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to Clint86:

Is that because you like the look of turbines in hill areas?
AllanMac - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to PeterM:

Thanks Peter.

Do you think the Chinese will sell the technology back to us? Maybe not too bad if they can manufacture it cheaper than we can.
AllanMac - on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to ring ouzel:

That's bothered me for a while too.

If turbines can be built in European countries in areas already developed, why can't we? They probably work just as well if not better than on hilltops because the wind would be more predictable, stable and less prone to powerful gusting (which would trip the turbines into shutdown).
ring ouzel on 19 Oct 2016
In reply to AllanMac:

The irony is that to build a wind farm you need an area with plenty of calm days in which to actually build the thing. I know of one wind farm where a met mast was over 3 months late in being put up simply because there were not enough calm days to send guys up to calibrate the wind instruments. Now on that site there will be about 60 odd turbines. Each turbine will need several calm days so the turbine base (3 components plus the top nacelle) and the 3 blades can be attached. Multiply that by the number of turbines you have. I don't see it happening. Plus each turbine needs 2 cranes, several trucks and a team of specialists brought in from Denmark. If the wind is too strong everyone has to wait till it dies down. But they still get paid. The developer can spend 000's of pounds just keeping the team on site. But as all the easy sites have been built on they are now chasing the difficult sites. Instead build them in the lowlands. Less wind but cheaper to build, easier to maintain and allows the public to get used to to wind turbines. But people won't make as much money so its a non-starter. It's way too late for the Scottish Govt to get off its arse and produce a cohesive national wind power strategy. Maybe they could do so for marine hydro or maybe it will be like oil all over again and the only people that will really benefit will be already wealthy.
PeterM - on 20 Oct 2016
In reply :

And yet another one:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-37702391
As pointed out above...so much for saving the environment....
jkarran - on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to AllanMac:
> As I said, you've done a grand job of clarifying some technical questions - but can I ask what your view is of the aesthetic impact? I ask because I'm having trouble in reconciling the seeming acceptance of what amounts to the industrialisation of uplands, with a love of the hills.

Climate change is the single biggest threat we're facing and the challenge is huge, absolutely gargantuan, what we're doing now isn't even scratching the surface. We have an obligation to future generations to treat this as seriously as it deserves, one way or another we're going to have to accept our world will be changed and that change is likely to involve a *lot* of turbines, orders of magnitude more than we have now onshore and of. They will become a feature in our landscapes that we'll have to grow to love if we want our children and their children's children to enjoy life as we know it in a world that isn't wracked by famine and plague, where we're not erecting fences and minefields to keep the starving hoards from our shores or indeed us from theirs. I think the aesthetic argument deserves to be considered in that context.

Aesthetically I can't think of a more elegant structure than a towering white turbine, perhaps that's coloured by the little flicker of hope I get from seeing a line of them stretched out along a ridge, spinning in the breeze but we've unquestioningly accepted far uglier things into our world.

That said, I see no problem with maintaining some exceptional wilderness areas but they should be selected on merit, properly protected and importantly, few and far between.
jk
Post edited at 09:35
Martin W on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to AllanMac:

> It makes a mockery of the now pointless SNH wild land map

Creag Riabhach Wind Farm is sited precisely in the gap between CAWLs 37 and 35. Go to http://www.snh.gov.uk/protecting-scotlands-nature/looking-after-landscapes/landscape-policy-and-guid... and zoom in on the interactive map to the obvious dog-leg in the A836 heading south from Altnaharra. The wind farm site is on the west side of the road, north of the Allt a' Chraisg and east of the Allt Bealach an Fhuarain, which appear to form the southern and western boundaries of the CAWL in that location. On that basis the wind farm appears to lie outside CAWL 37, although immediately adjacent to the CAWL's boundary.

According to this report: http://www.bratach.co.uk/bratach/archive/Jun13/jun13_latest-on-altnaharra-wind-farm.html in 2013 SNH themselves didn't really know whether the wind farm encroached on the CAWL. Their objection to the planning application http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/A1274889.pdf dated in 2014 does state that the wind farm site is "directly adjacent" to the Ben Hee wild land area.

SNH received a lengthy response to their 2013 consultation on the CAWL designations and boundaries from Creag Riabhach Wind Farm Ltd, specifically criticising the 2013 extent of the CAWL in the area of the proposed location for the wind farm. So the timeline is not inconsistent with a supposition that SNH might have moved the CAWL boundary in the June 2014 map in order to accommodate the wind farm, or at to avoid confrontation with the wind farm company. But if that was the case, it would appear inconsistent for SNH to object to the wind farm in March 2014.

It seems to me that SNH knew about the proposed wind farm in 2013, yet still excluded the proposed site from inclusion within the Fionaven - Ben Hee CAWL. If they'd brought the CAWL boundary closer to the road in that area (eg up to the boundary of the commercial forestry on the west side of the A836, or at least eastward of the crest of the south ridge of Beinn na Glas-choille) then I think they'd have had a much stronger case. If the point of a CAWL is that you shouldn't be able to see man made infrastructure from within it, that would seem to have been a reasonable compromise, taking in to account the wind farm company's comments but still limiting the visual impact of any development adjacent to the CAWL.
damhan-allaidh on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to jkarran:

I see what you're saying, the concern is that wildernesses will become, exactly as you say, exceptional. Hence, our children and their children will not be able to "enjoy life as we know it" - they will be enjoying something else entirely.

Interconnected challenges that need to be addressed are population growth and distribution, as well as food supply. In terms of of energy, MIT seems to be making great strides in fusion along with progress made in many other areas of energy and sustainability. I follow the Centre for Environmental Change & Human Resilience in Dundee - they do a great job of collating research and practical developments. Their twitter feed makes me feel dangerously hopeful on a daily basis. But we need the political, social and economic to make these things a reality in Britain. And also the soft skills to understand and appreciate the qualitative/aesthetic values and implications of our choices.
jkarran - on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to damhan-allaidh:

> I see what you're saying, the concern is that wildernesses will become, exactly as you say, exceptional. Hence, our children and their children will not be able to "enjoy life as we know it" - they will be enjoying something else entirely.

> Interconnected challenges that need to be addressed are population growth and distribution, as well as food supply. In terms of of energy, MIT seems to be making great strides in fusion along with progress made in many other areas of energy and sustainability. I follow the Centre for Environmental Change & Human Resilience in Dundee - they do a great job of collating research and practical developments. Their twitter feed makes me feel dangerously hopeful on a daily basis. But we need the political, social and economic to make these things a reality in Britain. And also the soft skills to understand and appreciate the qualitative/aesthetic values and implications of our choices.

We don't have time to sit back and wait for fusion or whatever the next magic bullet the next generation latches onto might be.

Great, if one of them works then when the time comes we can decommission what has got us through the immediate crisis, recycle it and re-wild our hills if that's what people want a hundred years from now*. Let's not kid ourselves though, we're at least 50 years from a fusion powered first world, more realistically 150. We can't burn another 150 years of fossil fuels on the offchance something that works in theory but has largely eluded us for 70 years can be made to work, made reliable, made cost effective and rolled out at enormous scale in the necessary timeframe. We're struggling politically to build one singe well understood fission station on a 20 year timeline, we need thousands of these things. Now.

*We show little sign of wishing to re-wild existing agro-industrial landscapes, it seems instead that we grow to love what we have and know whatever the previous generations did to alter it from it's primordial form.

We have turbines now and our arguments against them are myopic.

If we do nothing climate change will alter our beloved wilderness for us in our absence, it's changing one way or the other, we have to choose which way.

Turbines change a view but they don't reduce the grandeur of a vast wild landscape or the adventure it can provide. Unlike of course technologies we all embrace almost unquestioningly like roads, cars, GPS and the mobile telephone.
jk
Post edited at 11:13
PeterM - on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to jkarran:

I don't think anyone is arguing against the use of wind turbines. They are absolutely necessary. I think the argument is that there are other places they could be placed, such as the miles of motorway and trunk road corridors with existing roads/access/infrastructure - why not use these areas or areas like them instead? As for the grandeur not being affected - I'd have to disagree. These remote windfarms need pretty robust access roads so the turbine parts can be delivered to site.
jkarran - on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to PeterM:

> I don't think anyone is arguing against the use of wind turbines. They are absolutely necessary. I think the argument is that there are other places they could be placed, such as the miles of motorway and trunk road corridors with existing roads/access/infrastructure - why not use these areas or areas like them instead? As for the grandeur not being affected - I'd have to disagree. These remote windfarms need pretty robust access roads so the turbine parts can be delivered to site.

Yes and no, they should basically be everywhere the norm not the exception. We're still looking at this the wrong way round.

Those tracks fade back into the landscape in time like everything we build then neglect nature claims it back.
jk
Jim C - on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to AllanMac:

On Radio 4 yesterday they said that there were lots of Wind farms WITH planning permission, but not built as the guaranteed funding is not in place.
AllanMac - on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to PeterM:

Yes, this is exactly the point that many find so irksome.

I concede that power from wind is too good an opportunity to ignore in the broader renewable mix, but the siting of the turbines up until now in hill areas in Scotland and Wales has been clumsy (to put it politely), and ignorant of the many concerns ordinary people have - the very people who have little choice but to live with them every day.
PeterM - on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to AllanMac:

It's just about money really and not so much a concern about climate change. The Scottish govt. really needs to have a better handle on it all. Hell, they're still promoting oil use. 22 turbines could have gone up elsewhere and the peat bogs left undisturbed
AllanMac - on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to jkarran:

I take your point about the urgency of mitigating climate change without question. My point is that the preservation of important landscapes designated as 'wild' is no less urgent and should remain unsullied by any form of industrialised development. Climate change could just as well be mitigated by developments sited more sensitively on sites already developed, as Peter has pointed out.

I would argue very strongly indeed that turbines DO detract - very powerfully - from the grandeur of vast wild landscapes. Neither is it myopic to think so. The sense of place and remoteness felt by many who visit The Crask Inn, and who climb Ben Klibreck to witness that stunning view across the vast empty moor to Ben More Assynt are likely to be bitterly disappointed that such a development has been allowed to take place.

jkarran - on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to PeterM:

> It's just about money really and not so much a concern about climate change. The Scottish govt. really needs to have a better handle on it all.

Everything is about money, it's always money, nothing gets done without money including addressing climate change. They needn't be mutually exclusive. If you want ti to be about your money, your community, not just about the rich getting richer then find and join, start one if needs must, your local community energy project.
jk
damhan-allaidh on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to AllanMac:

I liked that partly for what you said wild landscapes, and partly for mentioning The Crask. So many happy memories associated with that place, the landscape, and Mike and Kai.
wintertree - on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to AllanMac:

> I would argue very strongly indeed that turbines DO detract - very powerfully - from the grandeur of vast wild landscapes. Neither is it myopic to think so. The sense of place and remoteness felt by many who visit The Crask Inn, and who climb Ben Klibreck to witness that stunning view across the vast empty moor to Ben More Assynt are likely to be bitterly disappointed that such a development has been allowed to take place

How does that negative effect on the happiness of a very small minority of people compare to the 8,000,000 people a year suffering early deaths from air pollution? How will it compare to the bitterness of those who grow up in a world with all the fragile wild land wrecked by the climate changing faster than the land can adapt...
Martin W on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to AllanMac:

> the siting of the turbines up until now in hill areas in Scotland and Wales has been clumsy (to put it politely)

My understanding is that lowland areas tend to have less predictable winds, and sites adjacent to other man made infrastructure in particular suffer more from turbulence which significantly reduces the effectiveness of horizontal axis wind turbines. I don't think it's just (or even) that the land is cheaper and there are fewer people to get upset.

(Disclosure: my nephew works for a company working on "next generation" vertical axis wind turbines which are supposed to be more effective in non-upland/brownfield sites.)

In reply to Lord_ash2000:

> Build wind turbines to save the environment. Only there isn't any environment left because its now all peppered with huge wind turbines and hydro plants and all the rest of it.

The difference being that the 'saved' environment, while aesthetically less appealing would hopefully still be capable of sustaining life and economic activity (ie livelihoods) more or less as we know them today. Without the wind farms etc the planet may well end up not even being able to support the higher lifeforms that we currently take for granted (or else persecute to extinction either deliberately or through carelessness).

For some unaccountable reason, aesthetics tend to rank lower than survival in the priorities of the population as whole.

"Environmentally friendly" doesn't necessarily also mean "pretty" (unfortunately - yeah, life's a bitch).

I also spotted this today: https://www.theguardian.com/science/political-science/2016/oct/20/the-uk-public-love-wind-power-and-... (the author's affiliations are stated at the foot of the article).
PeterM - on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to Martin W:

"My understanding is that lowland areas tend to have less predictable winds" - they seem to do pretty well in West Lothian and Lanarkshire. While not brown-field sites, they are neither wilderness areas or remote. I'm guessing that nobody has ever booked a holiday to Forth for the walking/climbing/outdoor activities unlike say the north west of Scotland.
AllanMac - on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to Martin W:

I think the flatter areas lining motorways would be a good candidate for the siting of turbines in lower-lying, less populated areas. You may have seen this when driving through Europe. Though I do realise that we have fewer flat areas here in the UK, relative to the power demands from higher population numbers.

It's my understanding that turbines shut down when it gets too windy, lest they overheat and sometimes catch fire. Maybe the rotational speeds are better 'governed' in modern turbines, but it does seem to be overkill to site turbines on hilltops, where efficiency frequently has to be either dampened or reduced to zero in powerful winds.

Do the vertical axis turbines cope better in varying wind speeds? Will they be physically smaller than the current crop of turbines?
AllanMac - on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to wintertree:

> How does that negative effect on the happiness of a very small minority of people compare to the 8,000,000 people a year suffering early deaths from air pollution? How will it compare to the bitterness of those who grow up in a world with all the fragile wild land wrecked by the climate changing faster than the land can adapt...

It's a dilemma, for sure. But I still maintain that wild land could still be preserved while at the same time have climate change mitigated by more carefully sited wind farms. If that means more expense, then so be it - at least as far as I see it.

jkarran - on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to AllanMac:

> Do the vertical axis turbines cope better in varying wind speeds? Will they be physically smaller than the current crop of turbines?

Size, swept area and especially height bringing exposure to more energetic air is key to maximum extracting energy from the wind. Big is beautiful. Vertical axis turbines have been around for a long time and while they have some technical merit in the turbulant urban environment we are very unlikely to see them installed in significant numbers at grid scale, the structure just isn't suitable when scaled up.

Hill and ridge sites, their exposure to higher altitude winds and the accelerated flow they produce mean more days operating in the sweet spot, not too still, not to windy despite being shut down more than units in lower lying less energetic locations. They're not built in the difficult locations for no reason.
jk
Moley on 20 Oct 2016
In reply to AllanMac:

Good news for us in Wales today, who cherish our last remaining wildish areas. But I'm sure it isn't the end of the story.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-mid-wales-37713958

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