I suppose I should start by clearing up a misconception: The protest I am trying to organise is not specifically about the Dunmaglass decision – however disgraceful I think that has been. I am certainly not trying to get the Dunmaglass project stopped as that would be totally unrealistic.
The idea is *not* to protest particularly about Dunmaglass but about the siting of these Wind Farms in obviously wild land in general. In Scotland the Greens are propping up an SNP Party in order to get their hands on the levers of power. The Green Party has managed to paint a picture of anyone who doesn’t want these turbines as being Anti-Green, which is patent nonsense. The purpose of the protest is to bring this to the fore and make people realise that the value of wild land is significantly more than just an empty space suitable for wind farms. The JMT writes eloquently to expound these views.
I quote: “ The JMT supports the development of small-scale, sensitively sited renewable energy schemes, in areas adjacent to existing settlements, which demonstrate that renewable energy may be sourced without significantly impacting on "wild land" (1) or wildlife. The JMT, while generally in support of the development of renewable energy systems, opposes new developments where they significantly threaten "wild land".
The great majority of proposals to develop renewable energy schemes in Scotland have, to an extent, avoided the most iconic areas of wild land. The Dunmaglass proposal is blatantly irresponsible in that regard. To place the significance of this scheme in context, it should be noted that of the many schemes proposed in the UK in the last five years, the John Muir Trust has formally objected to only four: Shieldaig and Slattadale hydro, Lewis windfarm, Eisgein windfarm and now Dunmaglass.”
It’s early days yet but I am trying to gather quite a few walkers together to walk a coffin right past Dunmaglass Lodge’s windows and take it to the spot of the highest turbine (at about 750m contour) where we could set it on a funeral pyre (the materials having also been carried up) and then possibly set the thing alight, (need to think about that – don’t want to torch the Monadhliath!) whilst holding a Wake for the Wilderness. (Cheese & Wine, naturally)
I will try to get the JMT and MCofS involved as well as Sigrid Rausing (the owner of Coignafearn and quite an amazing woman) as well as a few high profile media figures as I am well aware that we need high profile support for a protest to be picked up by the general media. At the moment I am putting it all together as an approach document for them all – none are likely to agree unless there is a good plan.
So – I need to get busy and finish the document and start to mail it out to everyone.
As to getting large numbers of TGO Challengers there – I realise that that is a non-starter as most will have already worked out their routes and be in the process of submitting them to be vetted. No: I am appealing to a much wider congregation of every hill walker who loves the wild places.
It’s been suggested to me that this might politicize the TGO Challenge. The Challenge has been supported by TGO magazine since its inception back in 1981. TGO is a magazine that campaigns for walker’s rights and the wild places. Both Cameron McNeish and Chris Townsend have written to me supporting my idea of a protest.
I should stress that this is not a TGO Challenge event. However, if people who participate in the Challenge want to take part then that is entirely up to them and their consciences to do so. If other estates believe that this sullies the name of the Challenge, then they are estates that we should be actively taking on to challenge their views about access and conservation. The Letterewe Accord was a benchmark of collaboration and enlightenment and this should be the basis of talking with landowners. A huge amount of effort went in to persuading errant estates that hill-walkers were actually good for the Highland economy and this is the message that should be pressed home at every available opportunity.
I believe that not to do anything condones the Highland Council’s and the Scottish Government’s dreadful decisions about siting more and more turbines on wild land and if we sit on our backsides being polite and not involving institutions that we have come to think of as comfortable old friends then we are condemning the rest of the Scottish uplands to more and more turbines.
For Dunmaglass, the building of Wind Turbines at 750m above sea level, on top quality wild land will only diminish the reasons for walkers to visit these places. In addition to the turbines, 20km of NEW tracks will be built to maintain these monsters (as well as upgrading a further 12 km of existing tracks). This is industrialisation of wild land on a massive scale. No amount of financial benefits from the energy companies will make up for the shortfall in the “Hillwalking-Pound” and the tourism organisations were against the Dunmaglass Project for exactly this reason.
This issue of totally screwing up the wild places IS important. It IS worth ruffling a few comfortable feathers. If we don’t then we will lose the rest of what we visit Scotland for – a sense of freedom; a place to be refreshed emotionally. What has been built up to now is only a fragment of what is proposed. There will be many times more of these factories in more and more of the wild places.
I am not setting out to be confrontational – but I am setting out to try and change the Green Movement’s mind – It is not acceptable, it is not “green” to urbanise our wild places. Once this message is received only then will planners and government take the wild places true value into account.