Caplich Wind Farm

As most people who know me know, I actually quite like the odd wind farm here and there.

For example, the Wind Farm on the A92, near Lochgelly is really quite pretty. It’s also not causing any real harm or environmental damage, as it has been built on agricultural land.

And that’s just it. I have no real objection to wind farms that are in places like that. They’re replacing monoculture environments, such as intensive agriculture or forestry, and in a strange way, as the land beneath the blades isn’t intensively managed, actually offer MORE biodiversity, and MORE opportunities for wildlife than these intensive practices. That, for me, makes them a bit of a win-win.

There are, however, exceptions. If you want to damage an area of true beauty, or a wild, remote area, that isn’t intensively managed, then you’re probably not putting the wind farm in the right place. The biodiversity damage in itself would make it a stupid idea. There’s no point in destroying the environment in an attempt to save it. Anyone attempting to put a wind farm onto “wild” land is almost certainly doing it for money, rather than from any level of conscience.

Caplich Wind Farm

That brings us onto the topic of the conversation… Caplich Wind Farm (in the interest of fairness, for those who wish to look into things for themselves, linked to the developer’s own site). The short version is that these 20 turbines will not only cause damage, in terms of biodiversity (from their own findings and Environmental Impact Assessment – just for birds…. Consultation, desk study and field survey identified seven valued ornithological receptors that are present within the zone if influence of the development. Each of these is potentially subject to disturbance, habitat loss and collision.), but as it’s being built on an area of peat bog, will INCREASE, in the short term, at least, CO2 emissions (see article in Telegraph HERE)

And that’s not actually the worst of it.

Most of the turbines will be visible from the hills of Assynt.

OK, to most people, that doesn’t mean anything. The hills of Assynt are just hills, right? Like any others? Well, no, they’re not, really. They are, to me, at least, probably the last truly wild place in Britain. Assynt is a place of true beauty.

It’s impossible to describe in words, so let’s try it this way… take a look at the video below, that I took in September, 2013, from Stac Pollaidh. Can you imagine wind turbines in that view?! Really?! (for reference, from what I can gather, at least 6 of the turbines would be in view from where that film was taken)

Enough said, really.

This is an area that relies heavily on the summer tourism trade. I suspect that having views to a wind farm from there would massively impact on that. It doesn’t matter how many jobs you create to build the wind farm, you’ll lose much more in the long term from the loss of tourism.

If anyone is looking for other opinions (admittedly, like mine, they’ll be negative), take a look at the posts by Alan Sloman, James Boulter or Alex Roddie.

And, if you’ve got any love for Assynt at all, and the true wilderness areas of Scotland, please do post your objection, which can be done HERE

I think this was a worthy post to bring the blog back to life with! PS – you’re probably best watching the video on mute. I tend to ruin it as soon as I open my mouth to speak (which is why I’ve never really shared it before)

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11 thoughts on “Caplich Wind Farm”

  1. Hi Grahame,
    Just read your excellent post above concerning the proposed Caplich wind turbines. I totally agree with everything you say about this particular development, and thoroughly enjoyed your video of the area.
    However, the wind farm off the A92 which you describe as “quite pretty” and is “not causing any real harm or environmental damage” was a bit of a shocker.
    ALL wind turbines cause substantial environmental damage in their manufacture, transportation, building and daily running due to the dangers imposed upon local wildlife.
    Turbines also require almost 100% backup from conventional power sources, therefore can hardly be described as environmentally friendly, They cost us, the consumers, massive amounts of money in the subsidies we are all forced to pay, while at the same time making developers extremely wealthy from these subsidies.
    I also believe the operator of this ‘pretty’ wind farm has applied for an extension to the existing turbines, making it a rather large ‘pretty’ wind farm.
    There are many people living quite close to the existing turbines, and many more will be closer to the proposed extension. These people are already suffering from noise, flicker and a ‘fanning effect’ of pollutants from Mossmorran petrochemical plant, as well as loss in value of their homes. The vast majority of people in the area are against these turbines, and I’m certain it is not the NIMBY effect usually spouted by wind supporters. If you google ‘Lochgelly wind farm’ you will get lots of info on the plight of people in the area. https://lochgelly.org.uk/category/lochgelly/ is also full of info on the problems associated by not only this ‘pretty’ wind farm, but the dozens of others being applied for in this Fife area. Their Facebook page is also very good at highlighting the thoughts of local residents.
    I’m sorry I have went on a bit here, but your description of ‘pretty’ wind turbines which most certainly ARE causing great harm, really hit a nerve. It is not all about protecting places like Assynt, some people like Lochgelly too. If it wasn’t for the turbines.

    1. I appreciate your sentiment with regard to the environmental impact of the construction, siting, etc of wind farms, and agree that it is higher than we would like, my main point about that wind farm, and other wind farms placed in intensive agricultural land is that there is a benefit to biodiversity where the wind farm is. The short version is that there is a significantly wider variety of species underneath the blades of a wind farm than there is in a wheat field or a sitka spruce plantation… So, from a biodiversity perspective, they are better than what was there before.

      As for the effect on the local population… Being a local, and spending time with locals, I’ve yet to speak yo someone who truly dislikes that particular wind farm.

      1. Having a quick read at the website mentioned above by Willie Ross, there seems to be quite a locals who are against turbines in the area. Not specifically this development, (I don’t know the area), but I’m certain these must be included (?)

      2. Those people do count, but to suggest they represent the views of the local community would be inaccurate. If I speak to 200 people, from the local community, and none of them have issues with the wind farm, as opposed to a few vocal objectors (who will generally object to all wind farms), then I’m going to assume the majority opinion is a closer representation of the views of the local people.

    1. And you think 243 is NOT a few vocal objectors, in a county of thousands?!

      I’m not sure whose argument you’re trying to prove here. You’re pointing out a very small number, and you’re pointing out the vocal ones… So, yeah, a few vocal objectors.

  2. And you think the 75 votes for turbines means there is no problem with having so many turbines in Fife (perhaps throughout Scotland excluding Caplich which you appear to object to)
    You are obviously a fan (excuse the pun!) of turbines regardless of the environmental impact, the health issues, the fact that they do nothing to prevent any climate change, they devalue property prices for those living close to them and of course the cost through subsidies which we
    are all forced to pay regardless of ability to pay.
    Like me, you will probably never change your opinion on turbines. So I will leave this conversation with a very interesting article on the future mess Scotland will find itself in, with regards to energy, from someone who does know what he is taking about, rather than than the green brigade who tend to ignore facts. please have a read.
    http://www.scottishenergynews.com/?post_type=platform&p=15729&preview=true

    1. Nope, what it proves is that if only 318 people have responded at all, the vast majority of the local populace frankly couldn’t care less about the wind farms in Fife. It means that it’s not a high priority for them.
      Unless it’s something you feel passionate about (as you clearly do), then it’s not simply worth the effort. At the end of the day, that’s what this post was all about. I do feel passionately that this particular proposed wind farm is a bad idea, and I’ve highlighted why. I’ve also highlighted that wind power, in general, on wild land, is a bad idea.

      That doesn’t mean I’m anti or pro wind farm. They have their place, as does everything. It’s all about striking a balance.

      But please… be serious.
      Do they devalue properties nearby? A damn sight less than having a nuclear or coal plant next door
      Do they have an environmental impact? A damn sight less than a nuclear or coal plant
      Do they have any health issues? Infinitely less than a coal plant, and if things go wrong with a nuclear plant, significantly less there, too.

      I’m happy to listen to the alternatives. If you can suggest a completely safe alternative, that’s less damaging to human health, right now… I’d be all for it.
      The closest thing we’ve really got is wave power or hydroelectric. Wave power is somewhat unproven, and hydroelectric has a much bigger environmental impact than any wind farm ever could, in terms of biodiversity.

      I’m all ears, though.

      1. Well, to continue with the Lochgelly plant: I used to live in that area, I’ve now moved to NE Fife to escape some of the horrors of the wind farms in West Fife, in ten years we’ve gone from no turbines to turbines everywhere. Driving along the A92 towards St Andrews you would have a lovely outlook towards Largo Hill, now it’s a corridor of wind turbines. Visual intrusion aside, I’m not entirely sure what you mean by increasing bio-diversity. The area where the Little Raith wind farm is has always been out to pasture even before the turbines went up. It’s hard to have firm data on these matters because of the obvious obfuscations by developers, but wind turbines are known to kill bats and displace or kill other species. The nearby loch used to have lots of geese when I was living there. Haven’t been back so I can’t say if they are still around.
        As for the comparison with nuclear or coal plants: that’s absolutely rubbish and you know it. Torness and Logannett produce more electricity than the thousands of turbines we already have *everywhere* and they only affect two small areas. I can’t say that I mind looking at Torness. Just one more big industrial building. Just *one* building. Because of the march of the turbines we have thousands of turbines now just about everywhere, and they keep sprouting up. And they are all in places where there was no previous industrial presence. Little Raith is one of the few exceptions, the place was already a mess. I do remember incidentally when the application for Mossmorran went through. The promise was: you won’t even know it’s there. We all know that you can see the flaring for miles! Another example of lies. But never mind.
        Finally, you are forgetting the blight of the pylons. Wind farms are not just blights on the area where they are erected, but they have caused the constructions of thousands more pylons, pausing additional risk to wildlife, plus the construction of ancillary tracks and so on.

        As for alternatives, new technology as far as clean coal and nuclear poses no risk at all. Only irrational people get their knickers in a twist about it, but these days it’s hard to find people who can still think rationally.

        Having said all that, I will admit that when driving along the A92 I do have some mixed feelings, in that while I profoundly dislike looking at the nightmarish vision of the big blades when you’re driving East from the bridge, as you drive alongside the plant, they can look striking against the skyline, and I certainly do mind them a lot less than on the skyline, so i can see where you are coming from. As wind farms go, Little Raith is better than a lot of other plants. I draw the line at saying they’ve actually *improved* bio-diversity. Wind farms destroy bird life in direct and indirect ways.
        Sadly, it looks as if we’ve got to put up with thousands more of the damn things.
        Sorry to go on blathering, but while of course I dearly hope the Caplich Wind farm will be rejected, I’m not sure I’m prepared to accept that rather than building a wind farm in that area one should accept thousands more turbines in the Lowlands. Lowland Scotland is now looking not much different to Holland or Denmark, and the quality of one’s life is profoundly diminished. They really make me suicidal, I can tell you that, the thought of the change that occurred over the last ten years in this county is the most depressing I can imagine. I’m a cheerful kind of guy so I carry on, but it does depress me no end.
        Oh yes, and as for objecting, now that all objections are put online, I can tell you that I know of a lot of people (myself included) who no longer object because a) it makes selling your property much harder because potential sellers can see you objected to a wind farm and can haggle for a lower price and b) if you work in certain areas (academia, local authority, schools), to be seen as objecting to wind farms is tantamount to being immediately blacklisted because you are seen not to be on message. Believe you me, in certain circles if you voice anti-wind opinions, you could just as well said that you see nothing wrong with pedophilia…
        Apologies for invading your blog!

      2. No need to apologise for invading my blog!
        Everyone has a right to be heard, I reckon… If we all just stuck our opinions up and refused to allow others to disagree, where would we be?! Everyone has a right to be heard.
        Let’s face it, wind farms, as a topic, are a contentious issue. If you’re posting either for or against, then you’d better expect a response, as people really are passionate about it.
        I’d like to think that my way of thinking strikes a reasonable balance… Wind farms are OK, if put in the right place. The challenge is finding the right place.
        Interestingly, from a biodiversity perspective, in the long term, I reckon coastal offshore wind farms would be quite beneficial… Once in place, they’d prevent any and all dredging and trawling, which would give the sea bed time to recover from both the initial impact of the wind farms being placed there, and of the historic trawling and dredging.

        As for little Raith. I honestly can’t remember if it’s always been pasture, or if it was intensive agriculture. I do know, from experience, that pasture has infinitely more biodiversity value than intensive agriculture (from completing bird, butterfly and bumblebee surveys of both), so the fact it can’t be used intensively anymore does provide a bit of reassurance, in terms of biodiversity.

        Anyway, I’m pretty much done arguing now. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and life would be crazy dull if we all agreed all the time.
        Sometimes we just have to accept a difference of opinion.

  3. I am not a great fan of wind turbines; they certainly look ugly and can spoil views, but I would rather see them than a nuclear power station. They serve a good purpose, and for obvious reasons they need to be situated high up, so I think the locals that are against them may be a little narrow minded, although I can see their point too.

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