20 March 2011


Monadhliath Ring of Steel

(Clickable map)

There has been a lot of talk recently about the rapid acceleration in wind power plant approvals in the Highlands of Scotland. I thought I would make it clear, just for the Monadhliath Mountains, where the plants are sited:

FARR                       40 TURBINES         BUILT



KYLLACHY                19 TURBINES         SCOPED

ALLT DUINNE           31 TURBINES         SCOPED

(The line that runs from west to east across the map is part of my TGO Challenge route for this May.)

You can see from the above map (please click on it to enlarge) that the Monadhliath Mountains are well and truly doomed. I have ringed the areas only where the actual turbines are to be sited. These do not include the additional access tracks that are required to get the turbines up to these power plants. These haul roads are to be 5m wide – considerably wider at bends – to allow access for the turbine towers, nacelles, blades, cranes and all the plant necessary to build and maintain the turbines.. It does not show the additional pylons and associated power lines to get the power to the National Grid.

The sheer size of these new turbines is breath-taking. This image is taken from RES’s own Dunmaglass website:

Dunmagalss Wind Turbine

For a truly shocking impact of this mass industrialisation you need only to go to RES’s own website for just Dunmaglass Wind Power Plant to see the Zone of Theoretical Visibilty (ZTV) map for Dunmaglass. I would stress that this map only extends for 40km from Dunmaglass. For ease of viewing, I have shown this map below:

ZTV map for Dunmaglass


Now I don’t know about you, but if I was choosing the colour coding for visual impact for turbines on the surrounding land, I would expect the largest “number of turbines viewed” colour choice to be in red. This mob have chosen yellow. Strange that, eh?

You will note that there is an awful lot of yellow on the map above. Indeed, from the western Cairngorm tops ALL the turbines at Dunmaglass will be seen. As they will from the Strathfarrar, Affric and Glen Orrin Hills.

Now take a deep breath and pause awhile before considering this next bit.

The above ZTV map is JUST for Dunmaglass. Now, in your mind’s eye, construct the maps for each of the other power plants I have listed at the start of this post. Now overlay all these ZTV maps on top of each other.

Absolutely Shocking, isn’t it? Imagine what the Allt Duinne scheme will look like from the Cairngorm National Park… being right on the very border of the park. On the surrounding hills and moorland, there will not be one place for miles and miles and miles around where you will not be able to see the Monadhliath Power Plants.

I mentioned at the start, that this post was just dealing with the turbines for the Monadhliath Mountains. You can find all the other power plant that are either built or in the pipeline on the map HERE. PLEASE have a look at this site. The scale of the proposals are absolutely jaw dropping.

Scotland’s Wild Places are well and truly, and let’s not mince words about this, fucked.


  1. Very sober reading, plain and simple vandalism, in the name of renewable energy. Someones making a packet out of all this. Absolutely bloody appalling. More power to you Alan!

  2. It's no surprise that the present situation with the Fukushima plant is being seized on by the supposed Greens in the UK to promote the acceleration of this industrialisation of our uplands.

    It seems the intention is to plaster every available ridge and summit with these monstrosities. Even allowing for the fact that the debate is being deliberately suppressed by politicians and interested corporations, the silence in the mainstream media is astonishing: a cynical person might suspect complicity.

    Unless there's just a handful of us who actually give a shit. Pretty depressing either way.

  3. Alan,
    I'm only too familiar with the unfolding tragedy on our hills.

    Sadly, the Monadhliath scheme pales into insignificance when you consider what is going up right now in the Griffin Forest area.

    68 turbines will go up between now and October, followed by another 14 going up at Calliachar (the developers are currently applying for increased height, but the plant as a whole has already been approved).

    So you're looking at 82 turbines a stone's throw away from Schiehallion, Beinn a' Ghlo, Ben Vrackie, the Lawers group and the like.

    The map you're showing is just the Highlands Council region, but if you took a look at the map for Perthshire you'd be appalled.

    If you live in the Central Belt, they've taken away the wilderness that we used to have an hour away from home.

    By the end of the year, there'll be very little left of it. Very, very few hills around here won't have a wind plant in sight.

    Sheer despair, sheer despair.

  4. Views from the edge of the Lake District now is often ruined by wind farms. I wonder Alan if any comparisons have been done on energy output from sola panels on houses per cost ratio of one turbine. Arguments about lack of sunny days if offset by the reality of how many days the turbines don't turn due to lack of wind. I know people with a few panels on their house who heat all the hot water they need from it. In terms of renewable energy why are we not seeing house insulation and energy efficiency first and foremost to reduce the carbon footprint and a direct result less energy needed. Wind farms off shore make sense as there is more wind possible. I don't see the point and on the hills ruining what little landscape we have left is even worse.

  5. I'm lost for words, (almost).
    It is without a doubt a FUCKING DISGRACE.
    Apologies to anyone I offend.

  6. To pick up on something Martin Rye mentioned and to update those without access to BBC Scotland - the Scottish Government last week knocked back 5 proposed offshore schemes because of the negative impact they would have on the tourism industry. You couldn't, as they say, make it up !

  7. Oldmortality, don't get carried away...

    They only turned out three schemes out of a total of ten. A fourth scheme (near Bell Rock) was withdrawn by the developers.

    Some of the schemes that were approved will have catastrophic consequences on birds numbers, btw. They schemes in the Firth of Forth lie dead on the migratory routes of barnacle and Icelandic geese.

    Plus there's increasing evidence vibrations from offshore wind farms caused whales to beach.

    Wind is just a bad, bad idea.

    But as long as the subsidies are attached to wind projects, Salmond and his ilk will go for them.

    It's guaranteed income for Scotland. We already produce more electricity that we'll ever need up here, but the lure of steady subsidies coming our way is too strong for those numpties to resist.

    Instead of cherishing the unique landscape, encouraging biodversity, making Scotland the best environment in the world, no, they sell out the dunes to Trump and go for the 'Saudi Arabia of renewables' madness.

    Mind ye, they're getting one thing right: Scotland will be a desert before too long. Perthshire used to be a fantastic county, with lots of people moving in to enjoy the superb quality of life (and no midges in the summer!). And the East coast in general was superb. Now, only some parts of the West Coast are turbine-free, but the midges would drive you mad and far fewer people live on that side than on the East.

    I may be wrong, but I can see an exodus away from the East coast and Perthshire in the years ahead.

  8. Andy B. Apologies for the statistical inexactitude, but my point remains that the gov. are apparently prepared to take into account the effect on bucket-and-spade tourism, but not boots-and-rucksack tourism.

  9. That's a fair point, Oldmortality. Safety in numbers or something like that. There are fewer of us than of the bucket-and-spade lot.

    Or perhaps it's just inverted tokenism---it makes sense to pretend that *some* applications are being turned down. But if you compare what was going on in the early 2000s, lots of applications were being refused consent at that time. Now most applications get consent, either first time round or at the inquiry stage, with several decisions by local authorities being overturned in favour of developers (Perth and Kinross council had to pay huge legal fees when the reporter granted permission for the Griffin and Calliachar projects).

    If they give the go-ahead to the Allt Duinne and Corriegarth plants that Alan is highlighting, then I think we may see a backlash from the coach tourism sector (those who take the Cairngorm funicular), for those developments will impact on low-level views as well, not just what we see from the tops.

    But by then it'll be too late anyway.

    There was a depressing but unsurprising report by Chris Townsend about a meeting in Glasgow or something like that where basically his concerns were set aside and the thinking of the opinion-makers at the BBC and elsewhere was "people will get used to the turbines".

    They certainly will.

    And then they'll vote with their feet.

    I'll certainly be starting to go to the gym to keep fit and then save up for holidays abroad. The Highlands won't see my 'boot pound' any more.

  10. Alan B. wrote that the Highlands would not be seeing his "boot-pound" in future. Sadly, I've read similar comments on blogs elsewhere regarding this industrialisation of the Highlands. I'm booked on the overnight train to Fort William, and I've found cheaper return tickets to the Pyrenees... how long before walkers choose an option such as this to experience wild land?? This is nothing short of rape of UK wild land. The effects on the tourism industry will be felt no doubt. Well done SNP - not.

  11. It is not just the Scottish hills either.
    Check out the number of Welsh Windfarms.

    And we are not the only people who hate them either. Look at the comments regarding Neath and the biggest on shore windfarm

  12. Oh my. What a shame. I just hope that our kids grow up to be fond of these 'orrible things so that they won't know what they have lost.

  13. brings it home alan, makes me feel ill.

    more info here:

  14. Yes, Wales took the first big hit with Cefn Croes. That was the first time I realised what was going to hit us all. They used to have a website with detailed pictures of 'green industry' in action.

    As for the kids: they're being brainwashed all right since primary school, where the done thing is to 'love wind farms'.

    You know, the Holland decision to revert their energy policy (if confirmed) is great news, but these things are like turning an oil tanker. Before you've really turned direction you're half the way round the globe already...

    One day they'll stop, just like they stopped with the big tower blocks that they were forcing on people back in the early 60s. There were a few who stood up to it, but they hadn't got a chance.

    And now of course we're spending a fortune to take them all down, those useless monstrosities that created more social division than the slums they were supposed to replace.

    And have the politicians that took those decisions paid for it, apologise for it or something? Aye right.

    I've said it before: they should connect every parliament (from the EU down to Westminster, Holyrood and the Welsh Assembly) and every one of the many houses that each of our elected clowns own to the turbines and only to the turbines. They only get power when the turbines are turning.

    They wouldn't last a month with that regime...

  15. Another wind station (23 turbines) at Blackcraig in the Galloway hills has just been approved along with an extension to Black Law in Lanarkshire.

    A deep sense of loss for what we once had, and despair at what the future holds for our landscapes (Scotland and as AKKW says, for Wales and elsewhere)is the only way I can describe how I feel. Oh -and fury.

  16. I know the source is Wiki, but even so.
    Look at the Growth Curve on the Chart!
    It is getting disturbingly steeper

    And also the number of them and where.
    This was last updated Jan 2011
    Wiki Windfarm Page

    A worrying Trend

  17. A large quantity of protesters marched to The Scottish parliament last Wednesday 16th March. Only one politician was prepared to be seen with us. These people were from Dumfies and Galloway to Caithness. If the politicians had the guts to hear their stories they would probably have left weeping. The last person to leave Scotland please turn out the light, if it's working!

  18. Well I have just heard from Chris Townsend that the Coirriemoillie Wind Power Plant has been approved. This in effect double the apparent size of the Lochluichart Plant as viewed from Ben Wyvis and the Fannichs and will in effect encourage the building of more infill turbines in the future.

    This was passed despite Scottish Natural Heritage's objections to the scheme.

    This means that the Scottish Wind Power requirements are over-ruling their own habitat advisor's advice.

    In effect, this drives a coach and horses though any meaningful planning process.

    Let's go and walk somewhere else in Europe - Any where apart from Scotland.

  19. That's dreadful news, but hardly unexpected. When Salmond said he wanted 80% renewables by 2020, those turbines have to go somewhere.

    And now they're methodically closing every little gap left. This is a very local piece of news that won't mean much to you folks down South:

    but it's another wind farm proposal right on the doorstep of the Angus Glens. Kirriemuir is of course the birthplace of JM Barrie.

    There's already a wind farm nearby, at Alyth, on the way up to Glenshee and Braemar.

    But at the moment you can still reach the Angus Glen without seeing too much of it.

    A wind farm at Kirriemuir means the gateway to those beautiful glens will also be marred by turbines.

    They were the last refuge for me and others. If you read the piece in the Dundee Courier you can see all the spin about community benefits. Do those bastards who're there to milk the subsidies ever stop to consider where the money is coming from? Of course not.

    And you're right Alan, let's go walk some other place.

    I said it when you started mooting around for a protest: best way to do it is to boycott the TGO challenge altogether. Stay away from Scotland. Anywhere but Scotland. Not in our name.

    With Corriemollie and Lochluichart, that's Torridon and the Ullapool area gone too. They were some of the last peaks left from which you wouldn't see a turbine.

    It's moments like these where you hope for an earthquake to take all the turbines down...

  20. Here's a link to Eon's visual impact document on the Corriemoillie plant. They usually underplay this sort of thing, but basically the turbines will also be visible from An Teallach. Great news indeed.

  21. I was at the march against wind power in Edinburgh on 16th March. The problem is people just don't know or understand what is going on. We need to make the public aware that these turbines are not an efficient form of energy production and everyone of us are paying for them in our energy bills. Developers and landowners are getting richer while ordinary people get poorer. Our tourism industry is being ruined along with our landscapes and quality of life.There were three professional photographers there and NOT one picture of the march, led by a piper and with very relevant worded placards and banners appeared in the press. There was some text in the Press & Journal and Scotsman but NO pictures. I spoke to a press photographer at the Corriemoillie meeting and she was appalled there had been no pictures printed. There were a few seconds on the TV but you couldn't read the banners. What is going on? There's an election in May and this should be made an issue but the politicians don't want to talk about it. Heads in sand spring to mind!

  22. Some really interesting stuff here Alan, very sobering. I consider myself to be pretty 'green' but this is not the way to go. Perhaps 38 degrees could be persuaded to run a campaign on this issue!

  23. You're absolutely right about 'winning hearts of minds' via appropriate use of pictures, New Highlander.

    Have you ever seen a BBC programme showing the environmental devastation brought about by wind farms?

    What we need is a website that collects pictorial evidence of the damage to the hills, the tracks bulldozed through pristine peatlands to make way for the turbines, the oil spillage from the gearbox, the thousands of tonnes of concrete poured on the hills, the burn pollution and the like.

    There was a document online about the Braes of Doune. There are the pictures of the Cefn Croe works. But not much else.

    The problem remains that newspapers are in the pockets of industry (hidden advertising and so forth) so they're very wary of doing a proper piece of investigative journalism.

    And opposition to wind farms is taken to be 'right wing' so it doesn't sit well with the journos...

    SInce George Monbiot bought himself a farm in the hills he's somewhat changed his tune about wind farms though...

    But here's a prediction: by the end of 2012 so many new wind plants will be up all over Scotland that people will finally start to take notice and realise that you're never more than a few miles away from a turbine. Then they will ask: how did we get to this stage. Well, we know how it came to be, don't we.
    The odd thing is that as Oldmortality noted the bucket and spade brigade is more feared than the boot pound. And similarly for the coach tours. Lots of them go up the A82 past Loch Lomond into Tyndrum and Glencoe, Fort Bill and Glen Shiel to Skye. There's hardly any turbines visible along that route. So you wonder whether the tour operators had a quiet word in Salmond's ears.
    As for us, we're a minority, not many people in the great scheme of things sweat their way up a hillside.

    Besides, they know we're anally retentive and will continue to collect hills for the ticking book so we'll keep coming back no matter what.

    Myself, I've stopped Munro-bagging, I no longer gie a damn whether I'll do them all. I now stay well away from those near turbines.

  24. Do we need a climbing/hillwalking website called with masses of photographs of turbines, views to turbines, the bulldozed roads etc?

  25. I like the idea of the web site.
    Shame though because I used to really like Scotland

  26. Terrible shame AKKW. Like many writing on this blog, I've spent most of climbing and hillwalking life here - and I live in Perthshire to boot. A county, incidentally, being destroyed by turbines.

    The idea of the website is a bit tongue-in-cheek, btw!

  27. 38 Degrees already have a suggestion for a petition but as the organisers were partly responsible for the Climate Change Act I am not holding my breath
    These is a second on the end to the flawed tecnology of wind farms too.

  28. When you think that things cannot get any worse SSE advertised punlic consultation on a mega-wind farm proposal at Balmacaan (northw-west side of Loch Ness - the hills you see on your right as you approach Drumnadrochit from Cannich), and another mega-lot at Stronelairg (east of Glendoe Hydro at Fort Augustus). If memory serves me correctly, the one at Balmacaan is to be for 300MW, so we are talking either turbines exceeding 500 feet in height (less than 100) or 100 or more turbines. This is the tip of the iceberg!

  29. No surprise there, John. Off-shore is too expensive. Salmond's demented 80% target means there will have to be 6/8,000 turbines going up. They're running out of space in the place that have already taken a hammering (Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Perthshire), so now they're moving into the Highlands big time.
    They're not afraid of cumulative effect either. By now turbines are so frequent that they are less noticeable (to some people at least).
    Note that when 10 years ago we were saying we'd end up with a turbine on every hill, we were called scaremongers. Now our predictions have come to fruition. My local paper (Tayside/Perthshire) was full of new announcements for several 'small' proposals, 3/5 turbines in several places.

    Sadly, it can only get worse.

  30. The idea of the website is a bit tongue-in-cheek, btw!
    So was my answer, but a little bit of me says it would serve the buggers right for being so short sighted apart from the £££ in their eyes

  31. If they build them in the Balmacaan's that will be one of the biggest crimes. That is one of the most amazing primeval places I have walked.
    Looks like this year could be my last time through there as well.
    I'm getting a bit sad now.

  32. I note one comment that has accepted the Spin. These PR companies are very good at it! Community Benefit is the second worst legacy of wind farms. They are designed to divide and rule. A bribe by another name but everyone I know in Scotland doesn't want them and doesn't want anything to do with them. Once you get the windfarm they are equally as divisive in deciding where they get spent. Please don't think that 99% of the people court them. There will be the occasional ambitious sort but they are probably be in a minority of one. The spin you hear is from the Local Councillors trying to save face and the developers. A new seat in the square doesn't replace a mountainside or give you a restful night's sleep. Quality of Life is never calculated in finacial terms. Meet the locals at the demos or the community meetings and you will find that what you hold dear, so do we. After all most of us walk the hills too. Your visitor pounds keep so many of us here. Bus tours stop at nation wide hotel chains. The boots brigade support local business.


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