23 March 2011


Monadhliath, Balmacaan & Druim Ba Plants

Clickable map (edited to add Druim Ba Scoped Power Plant)


Today’s news is that SSE (Scottish & Southern Energy) are holding meetings to discuss two new wind Power Plants: Stronelairg and the Balmacaan. You can see them both on the map above. I have had to estimate the position of the Stronelairg Power Plant from the descriptions SSE have given in their Scoping Report as cunningly, their report refers to attached maps but does not attach them… Strange, eh? You can see that Scoping Report HERE.

Both Plants will be using turbines even bigger than those proposed at Dunmaglass – 135m to tip. (Dunmaglass’s are 125m)

Without seeing the true horror of Stronelairg laid out on a turbine map, I went on to the Balmacaan Scoping Report. You can see this Scoping Report HERE. And this time they did provide a turbine layout therein.  Now then – Hold on to your hats, girls, because this one takes some getting used to: (Look away if you are of a nervous disposition…)

Balmacaan SSE Wind Power Plant turbine layout

Clickable map

UNBELIEVABLE! One of the most wonderful walking landscapes in the whole of Scotland and this is how they want to look after it…

So – if you want to see the Monadhliath & the Balmacaan for one last time, I suggest you drag your sorry backsides up there smartish, for tomorrow it will be gone forever.

Here are two (clickable) pictures taken in the Balmacaan in 2006 on my TGO Crossing of that year. Magnificent Wild Land.

GOC 06 043 Balmacaan

GOC 06 046 Balmacaan

A Heartbreakingly Beautiful Place (and the capitals are important here…)

24th March EDIT:

I have added the Druim Ba Power Plant to the location map at the top of this blog post which is just to the north of the Balmacaan Plant. This is another Power Plant in the pipeline, of about 30 Turbines. It will be massively visible.


  1. Choking on my chocolate chip cookie...words which are suitable for publication fail me. The only ones my stunned brain can come up with all have four letters and would make my granny blush

  2. Ghasp. .... stunned...... criminal.

    Its not April the first yet, y'know, Alan.

  3. Disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful. If Balmacaan gets in any way approved, then its a fucking scandal.

  4. Well, it's not just the Monadhliath and Balmacaan itself. It's the whole of Glen Affric, Mullardoch and Monard that will be affected.

    I still hope someone will pinch me and I'll wake up from this nightmare.

    I'm surprised they're doing it right now before the elections but the other day the SNP had a poll and what was it, 46% of Scots think Salmond is doing a great job.

    They're on a roll and they want to push through as many developments as they can before people realise the enormity of what is going on.

    I'm so sorry that your blog that provided me with so much enjoyment with your excellent writing in the past has now become an outlet for our collective grief. I'm grateful that you're giving us a voice, but it's really sad that we should have to confront these things.

  5. I'm beginning to think that the next move will be rounding up all the dissidents, starting from Alan. Then they tie us all to cinema chairs with electrodes on our eyelashes like in Orange Clockwork and show us videos of wind turbines on the hills until we say 'beoootiful'...

    Re-educating dissident hill-walkers, that's the next Five Year plan by Messrs Salmond and Huhne, the Great March Forward by Emperor Wee Eck.

    You read it here first...

  6. They might as well bomb it.
    The Balmacaan's were a place of untainted beauty.
    I am stunned, and ashamed to be a member of the human race if this is the desecration that we are inflicting on our planet.
    It's like going into the British Museum with a sledge hammer and breaking up all our historic cultural artifacts.
    To quote the Pub Landlord
    'SHAME ON YOU!' (meaning them)

    The sad thing is, it will get approved, won't it!

  7. This is tragic, but sadly as long as there is a ton of money involved, it's just going to keep on happening...

  8. A feeling of deep despair is overwhelming me.

    It isn't though is it. Not any more.
    They look at the BIG ££££ from behind their desks, and plan the rape of the land. They don't walk there, they don't see the landscape, they see a place that cannot be commercialised any other way and then go for broke. Sadly the powers that be seem hell bent on supporting this devastation.
    Hey at least we will hit our renewable energy targets.

    But at such a cost...

  10. One of the highlights of my walk last year!

    Once those are built there won't be many people going that way!

  11. OMG, OMG, O M G!

    Been watching Michael Portillo on Railway Journeys and he was speaking reverently about the wonderful wilderness area’s of the Sctish Highlands and Islands, Rannoch, Corour etc and much more.
    Do you think trying to get him on our side would worth exploring. Do his words mean anything?

  12. The Odyssee suggested getting Michael Portillo involved. What about the former MP Chris Smith too? He's compleated the Munros and is involved with The Ramblers. The whole thing seems mental to me, it's about money. Excuse my language, but it is a fucking disgrace. Why is there so little coverage in the national press that expresses 'our' concerns??

  13. Horrific and appalling, but not surprising. After the May elections, which can only return a pro wind energy government no matter what its make-up, we should expect regular announcements such as this.

    No words can adequately express my feelings. Goodbye Scottish landscape - you have served us well.

  14. Please go to where you can see what is also happening here. Is it criminal what the Scottish Nationalists are doing to Scotland. Alex Salmond will go down in history as the man who destroyed what is most precious in Scotland. So many people are saying that they will not return and how sad it is that Scotland is now ruined from the North to the South. In South Ayrshire our countryside is being obliterated by these turbines and Alex Salmond is bragging that they bigger they are they get passed by the Scottish Government no matter what the local people think. Isn't this supposed to be a democracy? Haven't we got enough dictators in the world already? Come on you proud Scots, stand up and say enough is enough before it is too late for this proud little country.

  15. There is no publicity for people against wind farms. There seems to be a media black out - as if they don't want people to realise there are lots of us all round the country fighting the same thing. They don't want us to get together. We are referred to as NIMBYs but all we are trying to do is protect this beautiful land, wildlife, people's quality of life etc etc - it's all been said a thousand times but nobody is listening. Maybe the time is right to sit in front of the diggers!

    Can I suggest people go to the officail site and register their complaint and horror at what is happening? You could also say you will stop visiting Scotland if the wild lands are destroyed by turbines. People do not visit Scotland (or Wales etc etc) to see them. The Scottish government do not believe wind farms will impact on tourism - based on a 2008 study which didn't include some of the most iconic areas - conveniently!They don't seem to think walkers are concerned about the wind farms particularly.
    If enough of us shout loud enough maybe something will change - we have to hope.

  16. Alan,

    I picked up on this quote from Nick Cohen's column in last Sunday's Observer: "One reason why I am wary of the greens is that they want to ruin it with grotesque wind farms".

    I'm not sure exactly how strong his feelings are on the subject but I've taken the liberty of emailing him with a few thoughts and pointing him to your blog.

    I'll let you know if there's any response.

  17. Lyndsey - I've emailed VisitScotland on three occasions, the latest regarding the airbrushing out of pylons in their Kilchurn Castle promotional material. No response. Ever.

    They are a waste of space.

  18. Let's get real here.

    The mass industrialisation of the wild land in Britain is now unstoppable. Let us all ignore the reasons for this, just for the moment.

    It matters not a jot if the reasons are (i) to combat global warming, (ii) to line the pockets of the energy companies, or (iii) for the politicians to fool the electorate into thinking that they are actually *doing* something about a problem that perhaps doesn't exist at all.

    We have now found ourselves faced with a gigantic march of super-turbines; a march that will result in the smothering of wild land with industrial wind power plants in Britain for years to come.

    Already, the evidence is there that this is complete madness. However, because the people who voted these idiots into power (that's you & me) didn't have the information & maths behind this ridiculous scam to hand at the time (and were probably more concerned with invasions in the Middle East and the continuity of oil production) we now have in place a policy for energy production that does not stack up economically or environmentally.

    We are set on a path that will prove to be miserable for those that want to get away from the stresses of modern life by taking solace in the quiet, peaceful wild places and at the same time we will all be paying a huge dividend in energy costs to the energy businesses who are already raking in money because of the perceived dwindling energy resources across the planet.

    And how does this affect the politicians?

    They will get away scot-free, as usual.

  19. Indeed, Alan. Couldnae agree more.

    And the sad thing is that while the other side (politicians, pressure groups, media) are all completely in step, the walkers' side is deeply divided.

    Any time there have been discussions of turbines on walking forums, there have always been a substantial proportion of walkers who say a) they don't mind the turbines; b) energy has got to come from somewhere; c) better turbines than nuclear; d) it's a temporary thing anyway; e) the track bring access to the hills to lots of people (apparently it's a good thing that folks can now drive to the top of Whitelee near Glasgow for a day out with the kids. Next, a dual carriageway to the top of Ben Nevis so that folks can have a day out on Britain's highest mountain?).

    This has happened on the old MBA forum, on the Outdoorsmagic forum, and the most recent example I've seen is the Scottish Hills forum.

    So, the trouble is that our side of the argument is weakened by the lack of unanimity among walkers (there is a good proportion of walkers who do indeed hills as a commodity and don't mind things such as the Cairngorm funicular, the tracks all over the place and turbines. It all increased 'democratic use'. Don't forget there is also the idea that us anti-turbines are still stuck in a Victorian playground time warp! That was basically the message when that muppet of Iain Stewart did one of his propaganda series about Scotland's landscape recently.

    The other irony is that Scotland is already producing more electricity than it can ever consume. So we have once again our government selling our hills so that the English can meet their renewable targets! Nothing has changed since 1707, it seems. The Scots lairs selling their country down the river to have the good life with their London masters.

    Sorry to introduce a political dimension that will alienate English walkers, but from a Scottish perspective this is particularly galling.

    In any case, your pessimistic assessment is absolutely spot on, Alan. The Highlands have been sold out as one more commodity in our consumer society.

    Next: entrance tickets to go into the 'walkers reservations' like Glencoe, Kintail and Knoydart. For I can see increased pressure on those areas from people looking for an escape from the turbines. So there will be even more foot traffic on those hills and they'll have to impose number restrictions (they've been talking about it for years).

    Oh yes, and then we'll get the fence up in Alladale for the wolves.

    And Trump's exclusive golf course.

    Luckily Scotland has 'the most enlightened access policy in the world'. It's so enlightened they allow giant JCBs on top of hills.

  20. Doesn't need to be quite like that. In Scotland we now have an election. We are asking the questions of our local MSP and he is found wanting. Quite simply ask your MSP his views and if he follows a Party line then vote him out. Simples! For the last few elections we have voted some pretty torrid MSPs into office because we all vote for the party and not the person. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said "Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country" He is also the President that with John Muir founded the National Parks in America.

  21. Sorry to introduce a political dimension that will alienate English walkers, but from a Scottish perspective this is particularly galling.

    You are actually spot on, and you will definitely not alienate this English Walker.
    Maybe since my name is also Walker I have some Scottish in me somewhere.
    To be honest I am not very enamoured of any politicians, especially the ones hell bent on ruining countryside that I have loved since I was a wee thing.

  22. A bit more political than your Blogspot, Have taken the liberty of pointing to your site if that is OK

  23. Is this one more to add to your ring of steel, Alan?

  24. Even the Cairngorms National Park is not imune

    This on the Mountaineering Council of Scotland's web site.

  25. I have some fantastic news from DBSE, the developers of Druim Ba. Nessie is unlikely to see the wind farm! 98% of the Loch Ness water surface has no visibility of the Wind Factory. Pity the rest of us poor old buggers then!


Because of spammers, I moderate all comments, so don't worry if your comment seems to have disappeared; It has been sent to me for approval. As soon as I see it, I'll deal with it straight away.
Thank you!