Friday, 31 December 2010


The Dunmaglass Wind Factory is now a done deal. It seems that nothing can stop the developers from vandalising a beautiful wilderness area. Even though strong arguments were put forward against the scheme by the John Muir Trust and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, they were ignored by Highland Council.

It seems that more and more of precious wild land will be taken away forever by the big business of wind energy companies. That seems inevitable.

Or is it?

These decisions are being made by politicians who are elected by you and me. However, in Scotland it seems that whoever is elected next May will be supporting the wind factories. This can only mean that they do not understand the appalling consequences of their decisions. The politicians seem united on this. Perhaps this is because they do not realise that a huge number of people are opposed to the schemes. If that is the case then we really should press home to them how much we despise these schemes. That way they might think twice before voting in favour of more Wind Factories.

So – how do we go about this?

How about a good old fashion peaceful protest? I have been in touch with both Cameron McNeish and Chris Townsend with a view to getting a bit of help in organising a protest on the Dunmaglass Estate in May on the TGO Challenge.

Both have been really quick to respond and wish me luck. Chris has given me a really great list of people and their contact details so that I can try to enlist more help from them. Cameron has written a very nice reply and also warns of impending disappointment as he has in the past tried to organise protest rallies but has found that unless thousands turn up then the media aren’t interested. That is a really really good point and one we should bear in mind from the outset.

These days, social media, like Blogs, Facebook and Twitter, can all help in getting a message out there to like minded people. Importantly it also gets the message out the to people who don’t necessarily agree with you but who would be nervous about your message spreading and becoming a cause.

I think with a little bit of a push we CAN organise something that the media would be interested in reporting. What form this protest will take I am not sure yet but in my opinion it must be peaceful, thought provoking and threaten the politicians’ jobs so that they sit up and take notice.

I will be writing to the neighbouring estates (Sigrid Rausing of neighbouring Coignafearn Estate is a high profile objector to the Dunmaglass scheme) to try and enlist their help too as well as high profile media figures known for their love of the hills.

Any ideas of what form of protest we can make will be gladly received. Please watch this space.


  1. The lodge does have a very lovely lawn does it not, a campsite almost too good to pass by...........

    I am passing that way on the first Tuesday of the Challange so would definatley be up for whatever is planned. I'll have a think about some ideas.

    Any idea of when the construction starts? If it has started by May it is very easy to get in the way. Big machinery, padlocks, chains and middle class backpackers could well make the news.

  2. Maybe the media would be more interested in a protest at Holyrood, that way, they don't have to travel so far. Egging Jim Mather would make the news I'm sure.

    As someone with a vote to cast in May, I find myself devoid of choice. Every one of the major parties back this assault on the hills. Even the so-called Greens.

    My local range, the Ochils are also defaced with turbines. There are obviously too many fat arsed, self-serving politicians making the decisions in both local and national government.

  3. I am going that way too Alan (maybe for the last time). So I am up for whatever. Not sure of the legality of camping on the lawn though. I will also be their on the first Tuesday, having trudged over on the track from Farraline. Not sure I'll be carrying Padlocks and Chains.
    It may be that a protest would be better when they have started, but I'm up for a nice picnic.
    At least with luck I'll be able to see how beautiful it was!

  4. There are obviously too many fat arsed, self-serving politicians making the decisions in both local and national government.

    The buggers never go into the hills.
    I doubt they have any real interest other than financial.
    Green is the New Black!

  5. Fraser - the Ochils are my local hills also and I agree totally with your comments. Walked them since I was a boy and it's heartbreaking to witness their destruction. Maybe bump into you sometime!

  6. It will be interesting to see how all that lightweight, high-tech clothing stands up to water canon.
    But seriously, I admire your enthusiasm. Unfortunately, a lot of the damage has already been done. particularly in the South of Scotland. The Moorfoots are completely f***ed and the Lammermuirs are going the same way.
    And you don't have to go into the hills to see it.As you travel north on the M9 coming down onto the carse at Cambusbarron, there is the iconic view of the string of volcanic plugs and the distant panorama from Ben Lomond round to Ben Vorlich/SAC. And now Hill o Doune Wind Farm! Baisturts

  7. Although I won't be there to see it, it would be interesting and possibly sad 50 years hence to see what an appalling legacy the current political incumbents have left in Scotland and what is left of the desolate but once inspiring landscape. There's a lot to be said for Anarchy.

  8. I'm not on the TGO but this is an ace idea and I wish you all the very best with this Alan. A call to arms, long overdue! Forward, avanti!!

  9. What works for cute little white sealbabies might also work for victims of these turbines. Make videos and photographs available for the public. Show the corpses of brutally slaughtered birds. Show people the visual effect of 33 126m high turbines.
    Greenpeace should be interested but that would collide with their opnion on green energy. As we say in Holland "links lullen, rechts vullen" (talk leftish, fill your right pocket (with money))


  10. Alan, I'm not a challenger but if something is organised and it's humanly possible then I'm in.

    Good luck and I'll keep checking the various blogs.

  11. Well, I'm not sure how welcome my comments will be, but here are some thoughts on Alan's idea:
    - I actually agree with Mike Kneip on the other thread on the AGW point. I'm sick and tired of people like CT talking about climate 'science'. Much of what passes for science in that quarter is hopelessly discredited. Their contortions right now are particularly pathetic. After having 'predicted' milder, snowless winters, they're now pretending they'd 'forecast' the big freeze! So-called climate science is now on a par with astrology in terms of credibility. It's a huge can of worms, but if you concede the point about AGW, then you haven't got a chance in hell of stopping the spread of wind factories. They'll always throw the argument at you that a few spoilt views are worth saving the planet.
    - In the same vein, there's no question that mainstream opinion is now fully aligned with what one of the Milliband brothers said a few years back: that he wanted to make dislike of wind farms as socially unacceptable as drink driving. They've achieved that very quickly and it's now very hard to speak up against the wind rush. We're immediately tarred as a 'vocal minority' that doesn't represent the views of the majority (the Holyrood government pushes that line all the time)
    - So, here's my advice: hit them where it hurts. Money. A boycott is what is needed. Start by boycotting the challenge and writing to Alec Salmond about it. Boycott Scotland. Take your holidays elsewhere. Write to VisitScotland, establishments that you've patronised in the past. Get them to see the link between preserving the wild land and getting revenue from it. Talk of 'soul' and the like won't cut any ice with those blokes. They only understand money talk. Walkers hold a tremendous bargaining card here, as the foot and mouth crisis made clear. Let's not buy gear for a year, go on holiday abroad and things like that. I know it hurts us more than them at first, but I can't see a protest on the front lawn of Sir Jack by a few middle aged blokes having much of an impact...
    Having said that, I applaud Alan's efforts and the above is meant in a spirit of sympathy,

  12. Thank you everyone for your thoughts. I won't answer them individually but I would like to make a few comments of my own.

    Whilst 'egging' Jim Mather does sound like a wonderful thought it's not one we should realistically countenance. (Shame, though...)

    I think AKKW has a really good point - these politicians (or should that have been "fat arsed, self serving politicians"?) never go into the hills and here lies one of our problems. We are talking a totally different language. When we mention "wilderness" we go all misty eyed and see ourselves in the middle of a piece of paradise on earth. When a politician thinks of wilderness he imagines a bloody great empty place with no voters and a great place to stick a few windmills.

    That is why the Ochills, Moorfoots and Lammermuirs are being covered in the turbines.

    Andy makes a very valid point that politicians (of all hues) "want to make dislike of wind farms as socially unacceptable as drink driving."

    This is of course their master stroke. The opposition to wind-farms has always been seen (and promoted by the wind industry) as naked Nimbyism. This of course is complete and utter bollocks. Okay - it is unpleasant and unhealthy to be in the shadow of a windfarm but more importantly it is massively destructive to the spirit of wilderness - the spirit that brings thousands and thousands of walkers and holidaymakers to Scotland in the first place.

    Ignoring the arguments of AGW - because I *do* believe we should leave those at the door before coming in to discuss the prevention of more wind factories - Andy does make a really strong point.

    Money is behind every single decision to grant planning approval to these turbines - whether it is direct cash to the landowner, grants to local communities and the improvement of local infrastructure (otherwise known as bribes) and the subsidies to the generating companies to ensure the schemes are profitable.

    Well, that is all well and good to those who receive the money. But to those reliant on tourism from hillwalkers there is no money at all. In fact, conversely, the wind-farms pose a huge threat to their livelihoods.

    As Andy has said in his comment, we should not underestimate the power of the Hillwalking Pound. It is the major share of the economy in the Highlands of Scotland.

    My next post will start on my proposal for a protest that takes this argument into account.

  13. I'm sick and tired of people like Andy denying the evidence of science but I agree with Alan that arguments over AGW should be left out of this debate.

  14. For another great piece on Wind Factories you could do no better than nip over to eBothy Blog.

    You can find it by pasting this link into your browser or by finding his link form my "Better Places to Visit" section in the sidebar.

  15. Actually, I think the DMMGW debate (Distasteful Man-Made Global Warming) needs to be resolved if you're to form an effective alliance between those who think its a load of old dingo's kidneys and those who don't. Sweeping it under the carpet won;t work because opponents will, at some point, pull the rug....
    Those "deniers" (spit!) don't really need to defend their position all that much, since their argument, presumably, is that the windfarms aren't needed. (Lets gloss over an discussion about global resources and the price of oil for a moment) This argument may be strengthened by the knowledge that Scotland produces more lecky than it needs at the moment.
    Those people who believe in DMMGW need to explain why they're against this technology and why its not naked nimbyism, because there lies a big weakness. If not this, then what? Or if not here, then where?
    If that's not resolved, there's a ball and chain around the legs of this campaign before you start.
    And speaking of "naked" nibyism, maybe nakedness would get the interest of the Press?

  16. Hi Mike

    I believe that the case against erecting Wind Turbines in areas like the Dunmaglass Estate was very well laid out in the MCofS report I linked to in the main post that I wrote above: Amongst other arguments put forward against this location was that "the Dunmaglass site is not in Highland Renewable Energy Strategy (HRES) “preferred” or “possible” development areas, despite the claim of the SEI that it is a “highly favourable area.” The HRES does not discount smaller wind farm developments in such area, but a 100Mw development of 33 125 metre turbines is well within the category of ”national scale schemes” which the HRES guides developers to consider are inappropriate in such areas."

    For this reason alone the site should not have been chosen. If you carry on reading you will find any number of reasons why this was a wholly unsuitable site selection. The negative effect it would have on tourism was virtually ignored.

    The plain fact is that it is high up and therefore likely to be in a windy spot (the upper turbines will be at 2460 feet up) and the landowner wanted to make a very lucrative killing. He doesn't live there and so does not have to suffer the consequences of looking out of his windows at the turbines.

    Whether we agree or not on AGW really does not make a difference. This scheme should not have been given the go-ahead - it was purely because of the incentives put to the Highland Council - a massive annual take in additional taxation from the development. Add to this some £500,000 given to the three local bodies and it is clearly the case that the politicians were "bought".

    The neighbouring estates didn't want any part of it, but Sir Jack, (bless him) couldn't wait to get his hands on the money.

    So - private greed, political weakness (a minority SNP government propped up by the Turbine Friendly Green Party) and local politicians all wanting to get their share of the cash on offer for their communities combined with a Big Business (RES) guaranteed to get subsidies for the energy produced to make the whole scheme viable meant that a coach and horses was driven through all the guidelines for where wind factories could and should be built.

    I agree, in an ideal world it would be nice if we could all agree about AGW but that is never going to happen. The important thing is to realise that the urbanisation of the wild places is carrying on apace and guidelines as to where it would be acceptable and not acceptable to position them are being deliberately ignored.

    To cap it all, as has been pointed out, Scotland has more than enough energy production capacity and so there is no need for the turbines anyway.

    If it wasn't so serious you would have thought we were making it up!

  17. Getting the debate out into the open, where it can be expanded and the decision-making processes subject to more public and rigorous scrutiny is a hurdle we somehow have to get over.

    The presumptions and misconceptions surrounding the whole 'green energy' dilemma are frankly frightening. I bet we all constantly get people saying to us things like "I thought you'd have been in favour of windfarms; you being green and all that". I know I do and it's bloody exasperating; but not far removed from the way some of the supposed green lobby seem to analyse the arguments.

  18. Such a parcel of rogues in a nation ..

    Hi Alan, would like to let you know that I welcome your efforts to protect a magic area of our world.

    Thinking about to alter our route and join your campaign.

    On my long distance walk from Cramond to the Far North of Scotland in last April I was unexpectedly faced with a new windfarm in the Ochil Hills near the Glendevon Reservoir. It was quite a shock and spoiled the day.

    The magic bens and hills of Scotland deserve better treatment. Don´t forget about the golden eagles and other birds which will be killed by these monsters.

    Best regards from Austria,


  19. I am very pleased indeed to read that someone is promoting a public demonstration of those opposed to the mechanisation of the Scottish wild lands.

    I am of the opinion that the membership of those organisations which opposed the Beauly to Denny power line (there were 20,000 objectors) represent a significant resource:

    • John Muir Trust
    • Scottish Wild Land Group
    • Ramblers Scotland
    • National Trust for Scotland
    • Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland
    • Mountaineering Council of Scotland

    I have been wondering how a realistic yet hopefully meaningful proportion of their combined membership might be "activated". I have been in contact with JMT but it is obvious one solitary member is going to have little or no impact. I therefore suggest that those of you who are members of the above organisations write to them in appropriate terms.

    And by the way I may have missed it but I have seen no reference in your blog to the Scottish Government Elections in May. Surely a factor in determining the date of the Wake. It would be a bit silly to hold it after the elections.

    Let me know how I can help to promote this action. Mass participation is vital, more harm than good being done if only a few turn up. If the leadership of JMT etc etc were to play a leading promotional role that could be most effective. Although I recognise the potential limitations of top-down hierarchically managed organisations in such situations we must give it a go even if I cannot really see the great and the good of NTS and JMT wishing to be associated with anything as unpredictable as even a peaceful demo: "you know, Crispin dear boy, how these things can get out of hand". Now the Scottish Ramblers under Cameron McNeish and Dennis Canavan is surely a different proposition, and MCS?

    I must nevertheless acknowledge that such concerns may be justified there  always being the risk of deliberate spoiling tactics not to say immature lack of self control. I would stay well away from the Lodge if there are large numbers. May I therefore suggest a small "funeral party" with a large demonstration elsewhere drawing attention to the "Wake". Above all discuss with JMT and NTS ways of getting them involved.

    John Milne
    Upper Glen Lyon


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