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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Barney’s Long Walk

All the dogs I’ve ever known have had an extraordinary sense of direction; they always knew the way back home and they can always find your hidden breakfast pasties. So quite why Barney, the beautiful Flat Coat Retriever, needs Bob and Jos Mahon to tag along on his walk from Land’s End to John o’ Groats I’ll never know.

But that is what’s happening and it’s happening in very short order!

This Friday, the 27th March, Barney and his two hangers-on are taking the first few steps from Land’s End. Barney is walking for Guide Dogs for the Blind but he is handing over the blogging duties to Bob.

You will be able to find all about it and follow this wonderful walk by clicking HERE. You can also find a permanent link in my “Better Places to Visit” column on the RHS of this blog.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Scottish Natural Heritage’s unpublished windfarm map

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) last published their wind farm maps in August 2013. As mentioned in my previous blog post rumours abound as to why they have not been forthcoming in issuing the up-to-date maps showing the Scottish wind farms - Installed, Approved, Applied For and Scoping. Could it be that the map will be so shocking it might just sway voters in the coming elections?

Who knows!

However, I have been sent the map showing just this information, not by SNH, but from Alex Major, who used to work in the team that developed these maps at SNH. He wants to make it clear that this information is freely available at https://gateway.snh.gov.uk/natural-spaces/  and Natural Spaces - Scottish Natural Heritage

Take a close look at areas you are familiar with. Close your eyes and remember what they looked like the last time you visited. And now open them again and see the true horror that is the result of the Scottish Government’s insane energy policy. Click on the map. It will blow up much larger in a new window.

NOTE! THIS IS THE SECOND ITERATION OF THE MAP WHICH ALSO SHOWS THE LAND THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT DESIGNATED AS ‘WILD LAND’

Alex Major's March 2015 SNH Windfarms and Wild land

CLICK TO ENLARGE. THIS MAP ALSO SHOWS AREAS DESIGNATED ‘WILD LAND’ 

IF YOU WISH TO DOWNLOAD A FULL SIZE VERSION OF THIS MAP CLICK HERE

 

It’s not a pretty sight, is it? Alex assures me that you can display this information on Google Earth as the information can be downloaded as a kml file. It is obvious that as yet SNH do not have all the wind farm information. For instance, I can see that the data for Aberchalder and Bunnloin haven’t made it to SNH yet. And of course, this map does not show the thousands of individual turbines that litter Scotland like confetti.

Quite why SNH has not published this data is surely worth pursuing. They are a publicly funded organisation and have a remit to be transparent as the data is publicly owned. Their behaviour disgusts me.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Now you see them, now you don’t: Hiding Scotland’s wind farms. And worse still!

Since 2008 Highland Council has been publishing wind farm maps every six months; You’ve all seen them on this blog. Scottish Natural Heritage has also been publishing maps, but the last maps it published were back in the mists of time – back in August 2013.

The last wind farm map from Highland Council (of the area I tend to concentrate on) looked like this:

Highland Council Windfarm Map June 2014

HIGHLAND COUNCIL WIND FARM MAP: JUNE 2014 – CLICK TO ENLARGE

You’ll see that it was published over 8 months ago. We’ve all been waiting for the latest map, to see the industrialisation that is heading our way: So after eight months of hard work, let’s see what Highland Council produced. See below:

Highland Council Map @ 5th March 2015

HIGHLAND COUNCIL WIND FARM MAP, MARCH 2015 – CLICK TO ENLARGE

Surprised? I was too.

“Where have all the wind farms gone?” I hear you cry!

Well, the truth is they haven’t gone anywhere. For what ever reason, Highland Council has removed all the wind farms that have been approved but have not yet started on site. They have removed all the wind farms that have applied for planning consent and they have removed all the wind farms that are out scoping for opinion.

It is now an interactive map which you can find by clicking HERE. The map I have shown above is a screen shot of that map.

Highland Council obviously thought that you did not need to know where all the consented, in planning and scoping wind farms are. Why could this be? Surely they are not under pressure from the SNP Government not to publish the maps with an election coming up? Of course not children. The fluffy, cuddly, SNP would never stoop so low, would they? They say they will add in the missing wind farms “at some point in the future.” Yeah, right. After the election.

I did a little digging (not too much, as I’m degenerately lazy) and modified the June 2014 map myself, and came up with this baby. The red wind farms have arrived in the last eight months. Click on the map to blow it up in a new window.

Highland_Windfarm_Activity_June_2014 UPDATED & Cut down

MY MAP OF WIND FARMS @ 5th MARCH 2015 – CLICK TO ENLARGE

I think you’ll agree that this paints an altogether different picture than the one Highland Council would have you see. In fact, it’s bloody horrendous. Just a couple of points for avid wind farm spotters:

  • The turbines at Aberchalder, at the bottom of the map, will be 5MW jobs, 184m high; That’s over 600 feet tall!
  • The turbines at Culachy, slap bang next to Aberchalder will be 149.5 m tall; that’s almost 500 feet!

What prompted this blog post was another set of maps that were slid out today by Highland Council, with no great fanfare. Highland Council has broken down its region into three parts: ‘Caithness & Sutherland’ in the north, ‘Inner Moray Firth’ in the south east, and ‘West Highland’ in the south west of the region. And here they are:

Onshore_Wind_SG___Map_3_A3_CAITHNESS_and_SUTHERLANDCLICK TO ENLARGE  

 

Onshore_Wind_SG___Map_3_A3_INNER_MORAY_FIRTH

CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

Onshore_Wind_SG___Map_3_A3_WEST_HIGHLAND

CLICK TO ENLARGE

So, what do these maps show? The titles of the maps don’t give us much of a clue. “Draft Spatial Framework Maps” are published as a guide to wind farm developers. It shows them where Highland Council thinks it’s okay to build wind farms.

Take a long, cold, hard look at these maps. Take a look at the areas shaded in a pretty pastel blue colour. These are all places that Highland Council believe it’s fine and dandy to build wind farms. If you thought the map I created was a shocker, it pales into insignificance compared with these babies.

One last thought. Just how, in God’s name, do these maps mesh with the Wild Land Map that Scottish Natural Heritage produced in June of last year? Wild land is to be given additional protection against development.

WILD LAND MAP A1323225

CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

Vote SNP and vote for the complete annihilation of Scotland’s hill country.

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.