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Monday, 16 February 2015

Scotland’s fabulous north west is about to be destroyed: Caplich Windfarm

My father died in a Sue Ryder Hospice. His care was magnificent and the staff at Sue Ryder ensured he had a comfortable and dignified death. The following year I walked a circuitous Land’s End to John o’ Groats to raise funds for the hospice. It was a 2,700km walk; a walk I’ll never forget.

LEJOG ROUTE

As I walked north the land became less populated, wilder and the scenery just got better and better. On the walk I mentioned this to Ian Shiel in a pub in Blair Atholl. He looked me in the eye and said

“You’ve seen nothing yet; wait until you get to the far north.”

At the time I thought I knew the Highlands fairly well, and said something to the effect that in my dozen crossings of Scotland I had experienced land as close to heaven as you could possibly get.

“Al,” Ian said, “That’s nothing compared to the far north.” 

And he was right.

The far north west of Scotland was forged in primordial times. The rocks are the oldest on the planet. The landscape was nothing I had ever experienced before. Here are just a few pictures to give you a flavour of the place:

 Incomparable Gleann a Chadha Dheirg

GLEANN A CHADHA DHEIRG: CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

Turn around and Caplich windfarm is right behind you!

TURN AROUND: CAPLICH WINDFARM IS RIGHT BEHIND YOU! CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

323c39674455ffbd4be203ebef3a6f68

THE SAME VIEW AS ABOVE, BUT IN BETTER WEATHER: NICKED FROM THE CAPE WRATH TRAIL WEBSITE

 

306 Suilven from the north

SUILVEN: CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

Glencoul Thrust

GLENCOUL THRUST: CLICK TO ENLARGE

I was using the Cape Wrath Trail as my route to the far north western point of Scotland. It is a popular route for experienced backpackers and has recently been incorporated into Scotland’s new End to End walk: The Scottish National Trail. 

It is magnificent country. Fabulous. Jaw-droppingly beautiful. But now, a wind farm has been put in for planning, slap bang in the middle of it: Caplich windfarm.

***

Please excuse the lengthy preamble to get you to this horrendous news but I wanted, no, needed you to know what is at stake here. Let’s cut to the chase and see what’s proposed and how it will affect these magnificent landscapes. You know the drill by now: First, let’s look at where it is:

Layout:1

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Next: What other wind farms are round about, so we can see what the cumulative effects might be:

Cut-down Highland Windfarm Map June 2014

CUT-DOWN HIGHLAND COUNCIL WINDFARM MAP: JUNE 2014 – CLICK TO ENLARGE

You’ll notice that Loch Shin is to be surrounded by Very Large Windfarms, and the capitals are very important here. And next, we look at the Zone of Theoretical Visibility Map – The ZTV of the wind farm:

Recreational Routes

RECREATIONAL ROUTES & ZTV MAP OF CAPLICH WINDFARM: CLICK TO ENLARGE

Now the above map is important. I want you to click on it. It will open up much larger, in a new window, so I won’t lose you.

The red dotted line is the Cape Wrath Trail / Scottish National Trail. You will notice that it passes barely a mile from the Caplich Windfarm. Now I want you to scroll back up to the very colourful picture that I nicked from the Cape Wrath Trail website.

Here it is again. I’m a saint, really I am; I make this so easy for you…

323c39674455ffbd4be203ebef3a6f68

CLICK TO ENLARGE: NICKED FROM THE CAPE WRATH TRAIL WEBSITE

The wind farm will be immediately behind from where the above picture is taken. Do you see that big dark peak on the far right? That’s Eagle Rock. The next picture is the view from Eagle Rock to the wind farm:

View from Eagle Rock

PHOTOMONTAGE OF THE CAPLICH WINDFARM FROM EAGLE ROCK: CLICK TO ENLARGE

The next map is a real shocker:

Caplich wind farm ZTV in association with surrounding windfarms' ZTVs

CAPLICH WINDFARM ZTV IN ASSOCIATION WITH SURROUNDING WIND FARM ZTVs: CLICK TO ENLARGE 

Take some time over this map. Again, please click on it to blow it up in a new window. Ta.

What this map shows is that on top of all the other ZTVs of all the other windfarms, the Caplich windfarm’s visual presence (the green and yellow colours on the map) stretches into the very heart of Assynt. Assynt; the jewel in the crown of the far north west of Scotland. The Crown Jewels. Gnarly old Mountaineers weep at the beauty and magnificence of Assynt.

 

And now, some greedy, money-grubbing bastard of a landowner, who will probably benefit to the tune of some £15million, is going to stick TWENTY turbines 132m TALL (that’s 433 Imperial Feet) to trash it.

EDIT: 4:00pm Monday 16th February:

You can make your objection known by adding a note of objection on the relevant page of the Highland Council Planning Website. The objections ARE important. Please spare the time to do this. I’ll make it really easy for you:

Click HERE

Read a few of the objections to get a feel of what to say and then just click on the “Make a Comment” tab and get objecting! Thank you. This really is very important!

Could you let me know how you got on? Ta.

***

You can see James Boulter’s excellent thoughts on this by clicking on the link below:

The fall of Assynt – Caplich Wind farm.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Cnoc an Eas windfarm; an Eskdale Moor excrescence

Lovers of the wild places had best look away now, for those who enjoy the less-well frequented corners of Scotland are about to lose another little gem.

Of course it was inevitable. Once the 220km long Beauly-Denny 400kv pylon run had been approved (replacing the old 132kv line) it was inevitable that very large wind farms would spring up along its length, with the lure of guaranteed returns. The consumer – that’s you and me – are paying for this madness in our electricity bills. For every kettle of water you boil, you pay well over double for the electricity if it comes from an onshore windfarm, and over three times if it comes from an offshore windfarm.

These extra costs are made up of Renewable Obligation Certificates, extra costs for the new transmission network (like the Beauly-Denny line), extra payments made to the conventional electricity generators for ramping down their production when the wind blows hard and it swamps the grid, plus a few other nice little earners like BMPs (Balancing Mechanism Payments) and LECs (Renewable Levy Exemption Certificates.)

This provides a jolly nice return for windfarm investors, and they trouser the cash relentlessly. As their bank balances pile up the stock of Britain’s wild land is eroded at an astonishing rate. The already rich Scottish landowners also trouser suitcase-fulls of twenty pound notes every day in rentals. Even the local communities get a bribe to ‘host’ the local windfarms, though in the overall scheme of things they are getting the crumbs from the table.

So what and where is Cnoc an Eas wind farm? It’s seventeen wind turbines set high up on the lip of Eskdale Moor, with stunning views. Each turbine is 126.5m tall; that’s 415 English feet. That’s Very Big.

Here it is:

cnoc an eas scoping-page-035

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Note: All those other yellow boxes are also windfarms. You’ll notice that Cnoc an Eas plugs a rather awkward gap between windfarms for any walker heading from the west coast to the east coast of Scotland.

Here it is again:

cnoc an eas scoping-page-6

CLICK TO ENLARGE

And now, let’s get up close and personal:

cnoc an eas scoping-page-7

CLICK TO ENLARGE

It’s ghastly, isn’t it? Any TGO Challenger heading for Drumnadrochit from either Struy (walking across the fabulous Eskdale Triangle or from Cannich to Drum will not be able to miss these beauties.  Force 9 Energy (the developer) has struck a deal to sell the wind farm on immediately after planning approval to EDF, which is a massive French energy company. As I understand it Force 9 Energy are being funded by EDF.

But from where will we be able to see this excrescence?

The developer has to provide a “Zone of Theoretical Visibility” map in his Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Report. And so let’s enjoy another map together; you can never have too many maps, can you?

Cnoc an Eas ZTV map

CLICK TO ENLARGE

It’s not a pretty sight, is it? I want you to scroll back up to the first map in this piece, and take another look at all the other wind farms on that map. It doesn’t take the mind of a genius to realise that this part of Scotland is going to be totally and utterly trashed. Ruined beyond belief.

But (and this is the funny bit – if you enjoy a little gallows humour) it doesn’t end there. As we have learned a few months back from the Stronelairg wind farm, these power stations need connecting up to the new Beauly-Denny transmission line. Let’s take a look at the Beauly-Denny map of this area. Here you go:

Fasnakyle substatiion

I had a chat with those awfully nice people at Force 9 and they told me they were going to connect to the Beauly-Denny line at the Fasnakyle substation. So this means that there will be a seven or eight mile pylon run from the windfarm to the substation. Why not, eh? In for a penny in for a pound! If we are going to fuck up this heavenly little part of Scotland, let’s make a proper job of it.

So, my old beauties: What do we all think about this? Over to you:

(And look – I know I said “fuck” quite vehemently and loudly, but let’s not scare the horses, eh? Ta.)

Friday, 6 February 2015

An hour a day: The benefits

A couple of weeks back I said on here that I had set myself the target of walking for an hour a day, each day and every day until I set off for the TGO Challenge in May.

I had thought that this might have a number of benefits. I need to lose ten pounds of Christmas fat to get down to my 'fighting weight' of 11st 11lbs and by simple maths the calories burned with this programme should do the trick.

Another more obvious benefit will be the gain of a modicum of fitness with the soft tissues being prepared for longer training walks in March and April. As usual, procrastination rears its ugly head and more often than not I find myself setting out for walks as the sun is about to set

And this, Dear Heart, has been the biggest benefit of all. The sunsets have been quite frabjous.




And I am now slightly ahead of target and my pulse rate has already dropped noticeably and wonder of wonders, I have at last lost a couple of pounds.

All is well with my world!
posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Jane Eggleston

 

JANE EGG

JANE AT CALLATER LODGE

 

It was a massive shock to hear that ‘Jane Egg’ died today, after a short illness. I met Jane on the TGO Challenge about four years ago, and she has filled that time with wonderfully happy memories. She was warm, feisty, fun and had a sharp wit that would always bring me out in smiles. She was big-hearted and as good as you can get. I’m going to miss her. Raise your glass to this wonderful woman.

My thoughts go out to Jane’s friends and family.