05 May 2011

A WAKE FOR THE WILD: Tuesday 17th May 2011.

Scotland's Wild Land

Today, when the polling stations shut, whoever wins the Scottish elections, the one thing that is certain to continue at an accelerating pace is the destruction of Scotland’s wild places. The Highlands of Scotland are well on the way to industrialisation on a vast scale.

Energy policy is dictated largely by Westminster & the European Union but the Scottish Parliament is on a crusade to go for more and more adventurous targets for wind. This blog has pointed out over the last four months that wind power stations are horribly inefficient, produce electricity at very high prices and are only in existence because of the massive subsidies paid by the consumer.

The National Grid cannot cope with the fluctuations in the power delivered by wind at present and so with three times as many turbines planned than we have installed already, Scotland stands every chance of having major power blackouts.

However, once you have signed up to having energy supplied by wind power it’s pretty obvious that the best sites for the turbines are where it is windiest; which is on top of the hills. These wind power stations will blight the Scottish landscape for ever, with hundreds of miles of access tracks, whole chains of pylons and cables and millions of tons of concrete buried in the landscape, not to mention the thousands of 400 feet high whirling turbine blades. The damage these turbine blades will do to Scottish birdlife is unforgiveable in itself.

One example of the hundred or so planning applications that have gone through for these wind power stations, is Dunmaglass in the Monadhliath Mountains. This seems to epitomise the rabid decision making behind many of these schemes: The Dunmaglass Estate is right next door to Coignafearn, where the enlightened owner, Sigrid Rausing, has for quite some time been encouraging Scotland’s iconic Golden Eagles to make their home. You can track Cullen, a young female Golden Eagle’s daily movements by clicking HERE. You will see that Cullen’s days are surely numbered when the Dunmaglass turbines are erected.

We have to face the fact that Scottish Wild Land will be utterly destroyed. The sense of the wild that we seek out will be gone forever; finished. Dead.

On Tuesday 17th May, a few friends and I will be walking peacefully the few miles into the Monadhliath, carrying a coffin; a symbol of the death of Scotland’s Wild Places. We will be passing Dunmaglass Lodge itself and carrying the coffin up to the point of the highest turbine, about 2,500 feet up in the beautiful, wild Monadhliath Mountains.

There will be a few words said over the coffin in memory of a once beautiful wild land. This is a chance to enjoy, perhaps for the last time, a wonderful wild place and reflect and celebrate together the glory of the Scottish Wilderness which is now, sadly, destined to be gone forever.

If you would like details of how to take part in this peaceful “Wake for the Wild” please email me and I will send you the details. Please come and support us.

My email address is


  1. It is quite sad, that this will probably be the last time I visit this magnificent and wild landscape. I feel lucky to have been there before it is ruined forever by the blight of the so called green industry, and rather saddened that future generations may never again have the privilege to appreciate its full beauty.

  2. At over eighty and living a long way from the wonderful wilds of Scotland I am sorry that I cannot be with you. I remember the Scotland of my youth when it was truly and gloriously wild and the roads ruined the suspension of my two seater, a price worth paying for opening the eyes of a southern England lowlander. One thing is certain, I shall be with you in spirit and doing everything I can to warn of the dnagers of 'renewable energy'.

  3. A bit of good news:
    The Mountaineering Council of Scotland's Chief Officer, Dave Gibson, has just sent invitations to 600+ folk linked to the MCofS Facebook page encouraging them to support to Wake for the Wild.

    We have also been put on the MCofS website "News" section.

  4. Still reeling from the landslide victory of the SNP. An SNP government with a majority is surely going to make our life so much harder. I fear Salomond will now think he has a mandate to finish what he started - trashing the wild lands of Scotland. I will circulate to other groups in Scotland - let's make this peaceful event the one to attend this year and show how sad we all feel - but will anyone at Holyrood take any notice now?

  5. How would you propose to alternatively tackle the problem of climate change?

    Yes, I too would be very much saddened to see human infrastructure encroach on this, or any, wilderness area further. However, I would like for once to see an argument against a particular renewable energy project in a particular location which addresses the global problem by proposing workable alternative solutions.

    I wish we were not in the difficult situation that we are. I wish we did not have to choose between several non-ideal options. Sadly we do have to choose one (or realistically, more) of the imperfect solutions currently available:
    Will we put up windfarms at a cost to human aesthetics and to flying wildlife?
    Will we live with nuclear waste for thousands of years?
    Will we degrade coastal and pelagic habitats with tidal power?
    Will we deforest or intensively farm biofuel crops?
    Will we drastically cut back on heating, flying, driving (that includes my own trips to enjoy wilderness), and owning/using so many luxury possessions?
    Or shall we continue to use fossil fuels, and anyway destroy the wild- directly via the exploration of the antarctic, or exploitation of tar sands, or indirectly via climate change impacts?

    If we refuse to choose one of the, albeit imperfect, alternatives to fossil fuels, we stand to loose even more through climate change - wildlife & wild places, in Scotland and far beyond. This will be likely irreversible except over geological timescales of thousands upon thousands of years.

    As much as it would pain me for human presence to encroach on wilderness, at least if we later found a better source of energy or succeeded in reducing our consumption sufficiently, we could remove a wind farm and, given a few human lifetimes, some of the local damage could heal. If we fail to compromise somewhere however, much widespread damage may be irreparable. For me, this would be all the more unforgivable....

  6. I agree with Lyndsey Let's all support this walk and enjoy what is left of Beautiful Scotland while we have the chance. Have just come back from a local walk in Ayrshire and feel so depressed at the sight of 3 major wind farms here visible from one spot, with 3 more planned for the same area. The Highlands, Borders and Lowlands will be gone forever and people will look back and wonder what it was all about. This can be summed up in a few words. Money, self glorification and greed.

  7. Baldie-chick:

    You preface your comment with the usual "climate change problem".

    I won't address that issue or let my personal opinions get in the way of the main thrust of the problem as it is not the issue here.

    It isn't about making a choice between "non-ideal solutions"

    Deriving energy from wind is a complete nonsense, as I have painstakingly pointed out on this blog over the last four months.

    Every MW provided by wind has to be backed up by another power source, as wind cannot be relied upon.

    "3leon" over at "Outdoors magic put it quite well:

    "Things most people don't realise.
    1. The National Grid is a balanced system, Power in needs to stay pretty close to power out. It's done by turning power stations, nukes and hydroelectric dams on and off as demand fluctuates. And it's a guy sitting in front of a computer in the control centre, who keeps an eye out for big events (i.e. an ad break in coronation street when everyone puts the kettle on) who is responsible for it all.
    2. You can start a hydroelectric dam up in 30 seconds. It can take 30 minutes to start up a gas turbine power plant, an hour for a coal one and days for a nuke. So normally, nukes stay turned on all the time because it takes so long to shut them down (the reason why we get cheaper rates at night). Conventional power plants handle the difference between night and day, and spikes that can be planned for during the day (ad breaks, the 8am/9am spikes etc..) Hydro is held in reserve for unpredictable spikes.
    3. The best form of power storage we have is hydroelectric dams, by pumping water back uphill during the night, using power from the nukes, ready to deal with sudden spikes the next day. There is no other form of grid scale power storage available(and it will only be when this particular problem is solved that renewable energy will become truly viable).
    4. Wind turbines do not produce much electricity most of the time, it's an 80/20 deal, they generate 80% of their potential power for 20% of the time, and 20% of their power 80% of the time (and I'm being generous in those ratios too) This is because there is much more energy in short, fast gusts of wind than there is in a steady stream of normal wind. Wind turbines work in small scale systems because if you can store the power from the high speed winds you can balance out the times when the turbines are not making much power.

    So, finally, to the point. The future, with large scale wind power.

    A man sits in an office just outside london, surrounded by computer and tv screens, He's just made a phone call to get a power station fired up ready for the half time in the England v Brazil world cup quarter final, bringing him up to full normal output, wind turbines are pulling 15% of the weight, the rest coming from nukes and conventional power, hydro held in reserve. Just as the kettles start to fire up, the wind in Scotland starts to calm, not a problem, he fires up all of his hydro dams to compensate, but the wind keeps dropping, suddenly he doesn't have the spare capacity from the dams to compensate for the lack of wind power, and a brown out begins in parts of the uk. Faced with equipment damage or turning people off, he starts turning parts of the grid off. Since there's been a brown out, equipment has to be tested before it can be turned on again, so whoever got turned off will miss the second half of the game...

    Wind turbines are politically driven, power engineering takes second place."

    So, look at all the other alternatives, by all means, But do not consider wind as a sensible alternative.

  8. It's a huge worry this.
    We have to save the life of the planet, but at the cost of its soul?

    If I can come along I will.

  9. At least we could remove the turbines? But not the one thousand tons of concrete per turbine and not the roadways. They would just be covered over and if, if they were decommissioned who would pay. According to all we are told they are supposed to be removed in twenty five years but then Highland Council refers to the estimated output from on shore turbines in 2050. Either someone needs a maths lesson or more like we have been sold a pup. Let's be honest, this is about money and if they are paid up and still making money, no one is going to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Climate Change. A consensus of opinion? As Einstein said:"It does not take a hundred scientists to prove me right (consensus ?). It only takes one to prove me wrong"
    Problem is that none of the Climate Change "scientists"(mostly politicians like Al Gore) will even consider the one, be he right or wrong. And there are plenty of very learned men that question the theory.

  10. Best of luck with the walk/protest. Working in Cambridge next week otherwise would come along. Windfarms are a divisive subject but the Monadhliath are rightly held in high esteem as one of Scotland's last Wild Places and should be protected.

  11. Gaaah - I'll only have made it as far as Melgarve on the 17th. So near ... yet so far!

    Jeremy Burrows

  12. All the very best on your walk and for your highly justified protest. Every time I visit the Highlands and the Borders of Scotland there's yet another bunch of wind turbines - and for what? To massage the egos of a few useless and ill informed politicians.
    All very sad and no doubt the political thrust to build ever more turbines will have been given a boost by the recent majority given to the SNP by urban voters. I just wish that they would learn that Scotland in not for sale by transient politicians - it's our long standing heritage and must be protected from the ravages of developers and lanowners who are driven my huge subsidies - and certainly not a desire to "save the planet"!!

  13. Unfortunately I start a new job on Monday, so getting the following Tuesday off would probably be pushing my luck. But all the best with it Alan, would be great if it got some press coverage.

  14. I'll be arriving in Newtonmore on the 17th, so I'll be thinking of you all. Good luck.

  15. Thanks for the "invite" Alan, I'd love to be there with you, but sadly I'll be toiling back at my desk in Kendal. I'll be thinking of you all, reminded of the infernal windmills, I can even see some of the damned things on my short commute into Kendal. Hope all goes well. Best wishes.

  16. Here's another article against the pointlessness of windfarms.
    Sadly this one (which if you read it) is really against them, was posted back in 2004. Even then people didn't want them, but it has unfortunately made no difference.

  17. Sadly, I'll have to support you from a distance, Alan. Good luck!

    Meanwhile, here's some more grist for your mill:

    "Alex Salmond declared his intention to take control of the hugely profitable wind farms leased by the Crown Estate after his party’s resounding election victory."


    "The SNP wants to cash in on the £7 billion renewable energy sector, saying that "Scotland should not have to wait any longer" for control over the country’s coastline and seas."


  18. Sorry I can’t join you Alan, as you saw from my post on the TGO message board I was in the Monadhliath last week and was horrified by the level of destruction going on. It’s very frustrating that so many people think that if you’re anti wind farm, you’re anti climate change. Surely they must at some stage realise that when a turbine is stationary it’s not generating power!
    Keep up the good work.

  19. I am just a normal person. I try to do my bit to help the environment. I recycle (as much as the Council lets me). I've replaced my oil-fired CH with a wood-burning stove, I use energy-efficient lightbulbs etc.

    I am certainly no expert when it comes to answering the energy problems facing us as a Nation or as a race but I am waiting with baited breath for all the people who are brighter than me to come up with a renewable solution.

    I look across a wind turbine 'farm' from my house in Speyside and I don't even mind the look of them when I spy them from the top of Ben Rinnes. However, over recent months as I've read more about them I find my opinion changing. Although I'm quite happy with them 'in my backyard' I'm flabbergasted to learn that there is such a concerted drive by the powers that be to spend so much money, cause so much upset and spoil so much wild country to install a technology which (since 1994) has been PROVEN NOT TO WORK!!

    Like I say, I'm no expert, but at least I'm prepared to listen to those who are! I'll be with you on the 17th if I can Alan (et al).

  20. Hope you get loads of publicity!

  21. UPDATE:
    Well, we're getting the message out there about the Wake for the Wild: Grough has given us very good coverage:

    All the Press Releases are out now (seemed like 100's of them! - many thanks to Mike Dales of the MCofS and Lyndsey for the contact lists)

    In fact, the MCof S have been stars in all this - Dave Gibson (Chief Officer) has stuck the message 'out there' on FB and let some quite influential 'outdoorsey' people know about the Wake. Chris Townsend (their President) has been tweeting about it and putting it on FB too.

    BBC Alba are interested in coming along with a Gaelic speaker to the Wake and the Press & Journal are going to give us coverage too.

    So - Do Your Bit for me too? Tell your friends about this. If you can't come send someone who can. I need your support. I am just one bloke who wants to do his bit. You can make this a whole army of supporters.

    We need to get the message to the politicians, bang on the nose, that industrialisation of the Wild Land is totally unacceptable.

  22. Have to be working in Huntly on Tuesday so can't be with you. Resistance to these developments is growing in Aberdeenshire so perhaps there is hope.

  23. I can't make it to the Wake unfortunately, due to work commitments that I can't get out of. But I'm pleased that it is getting a decent amount of publicity, and hope vast numbers of folk turn up!


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