Thursday, 19 January 2012

Allt Duine: Highland Council webcast

For those amongst the congregation with an interest in how Planning Committees arrive at their decisions take a peek at yesterdays Highland Council planning committee’s meeting which discussed the Allt Duine planning application from RWE nPower. It was broadcast and the recording can be found by clicking the link below:


You need to “Fast forward” to about 7 minutes in, to start at the appropriate point.

I thought it would be interesting to note each of the supporters’ comments, so that we can all see what sort of opposition we are facing in the fight to stop the Allt Duine wind power station.

The three Councillors who expressed support for the windfarm were T Prag, E Hunter and Jimmie Gray. Having re-watched the meeting this evening, what each of them had to say was enlightening. I made careful notes:

Councillor THOMAS PRAG: (Scot Lib Dem)


I haven’t climbed hills for many years. We should make decisions in the light of National Policy. On Wildlife: Effectively the whole of the Monadhliath would be disbarred from windfarms as it is a very wild area: However, It is not a protected area. If I am absolutely honest, the influence on the National Park is probably not that significant. We can’t say “No” to all of them. We have quite rightly said “No” to a few.. I would worry if we got a reputation as ‘anti-windfarm’ I happen to quite like windfarms.


Councillor EDDIE HUNTER: (Independent):


Most of the individual objectors seem to be a long distance away from the proposed site.






Councillor JIMMIE GRAY: (Scot Lab)


It’s probably difficult to recollect a situation where we had less objections to a windfarm  (He said this twice) From our site visit we saw in fact that there was very little to see.

We have a government that has been voted in on a basis of supporting renewable energy. The guidance coming forward makes that very clear. As a planning committee we should take that on board and it is my view that we should support the application and allow this on a national basis.


Brilliantly, an elder member of the committee stood up to bash that straight back!

Councillor HAMISH WOOD: (Scot Lib Dem)


“I don’t know what the Provost (Jimmie Gray is the Provost of Inverness) was looking at. When I looked out I saw a vision. I saw wilderness. I don’t know what he was looking at!”





I don’t know about you, but if i lived in Highland Council’s area, I would certainly not be voting for Messrs Prag, Hunter & Gray and I would make damn sure that everyone I met knew how these men voted on Tuesday.


  1. Quote Gray......
    I happen to quite like windfarms.

    What a complete ------- ------

    Fill in the blanks.
    It is a bit like hangman.

    Here's a clue...

    The first word is a bit of a profanity, and the second one is similar to my surname!

  2. I thought Mr Fallows spoke well though!

  3. “I don’t know what the Provost (Jimmie Gray) was looking at."

    Neither did he, Councillor Wood, neither did he. And therein lies the problem.

  4. Mad'n'Bad Andy: I never was much good at Hangman. You might have to fill in the dashes...
    I agree with you. Cllr Dave Fallows spoke for every hill walker everywhere. Based on what I saw of him in that meeting, he is an absolutely excellent chap.

  5. Byweays: you are spot on Sir! That is exactly the problem and we need to take folk like him out for a walk in the hills on a one-to-one basis to show them the glories of the wild lands. I am sure they are great people - it's just that they obviously have not experienced the joys of being somewhere remote and wild.
    Only then will they 'get it' and come on side. We have a lot of work to do.

  6. Thanks for posting this Alan. I live in the Highland Council area - my councillor is David Fallows, whose speech was excellent.

    I'm not sure that convincing someone like Jimmie Gray is possible. I remember at the time of the Lurcher's Gully controversy (when the Cairngorm ski resort wanted to extend the ski lifts up Lurchers) seeing a skiing representative standing in the Corrie Cas car park and waving his hand at the splendid view across to Lurchers and saying that there was nothing there and how much better it would look with roads, buildings and ski tows. It's an urbanised outlook that just sees wild places as in need of development.

    I think it's the people who have been convinced that wind farms in wild places are needed to combat global warming but who otherwise don't like them. The people who've swallowed the argument, put about by urban environmental groups, that the Highlands would be more damaged by climate change than wind farms.

  7. "From our site visit we saw in fact that there was very little to see."


    Mike fae Dundee

  8. Hi Chris. I agree totally. There is likely to be a far great er return on effort persuading the uninformed of the truth of the matter rather than trying to change the minds of people who seem set in their ways.

    We can do that by constantly refuting the spurious claims of the pre-wind lobby and just telling the plain unvarnished truth.

    It's tough at times to have to go right back to basics to try to explain why it's important to keep wild land pristine but it's necessary and needs to be repeated over and over again.

    It's also important to explain that wind energy is not "green" and that it is incredibly expensive, so that people can get it on a cost and environmental level as well.

  9. Hi Mike;

    :-) Spot on - I thought Chris's post captured the problem in one.

  10. Alan, I think your comment "I am sure they are great people" reflects more on your generosity of spirit than actual reality. My MP (Albert Owen, Lab, Ynys Mon) is not great at all.

    When I pointed out to him that replacing a conventional gas/coal fired power station with wind would require 667 huge turbines instead of the mere 200 claimed due to the fact that they only operate at 30% of so-called "installed capacity", Albert Owen MP said that this was good because it would provide more jobs for local people.

    Having met a few MPs and councillors in my time I have to disagree that they are "great people" but are mostly complete dickheads.

    Therein lies the problem. If you get into an argument with an idiot they first drag you down to their level then beat you with experience.

    Keep up the good work, though.

  11. Thanks for this Alan. The problem is all too obvious, as Byeways points out.

    More power to Mr Fallows and the rest.

  12. Blimey Peter. That is depressing. That's old Dinosaur Labour thinking.

    You are right - we just have to keep banging on, letting people know the unvarnished truth about wind energy and the merits of protecting wild land.

    It has to be repeated over and over again.

  13. Has anyone ever asked Alex Salmond to go for a walk with them?

    Perhaps it needs this open his eyes to what he is destroying in his quest for 100% equivalent energy supply from renewables.

    Perhaps the MCofS or the JMT should write to Alex and ask him for a day of his time.

    A few years back Wee Alex promised to protect the Scottish hills from industrialisation from windfarms. Now is the time to remind him of his promise.

  14. Wind power can now supply 3.3 million homes in the UK according to Renewable UK -

    My MP, Danny Alexander, who used to do PR for the Cairngorms National Park says:

    "This is a significant milestone for the wind industry which demonstrates the increasingly important role that renewable energy is playing in the UK's energy mix.

    "Working together, we can reach even greater heights. We are eager to ensure that the UK becomes the natural home for the most innovative, ambitious and inspiring renewable energy companies in the world, and we will continue to work with the industry to drive down costs and encourage even stronger growth in the years to come"

    It's not just Alex Salmond.

  15. I expect Alex Salmond would be another Jimmie Gray and claim there was nothing to see. As Jim Crumley said, I doubt wilderness is Mr Salmond's 'bag'.

    Always worth a try though.

    I agree with Peter: when I wrote to a local councillor regarding the Burnfoot windfarm, his closely agrued reply was 'You need help'. Such a rapier intellect is hard to argue with.

  16. Gibson: If Councillors like Dave Fallows can grasp the situation we just need to work harder on a personal basis with the members who have not understood.

    It's no good doing this by letter or email. We need to get alongside these people and get them to see what is being destroyed. we need to get them to see what Councillor Wood sees.

  17. Afterall taking a politician for a walk was what John Muir did to great effect and saved Yosemite.....

  18. Chris: Thanks for that. I have just read all the press release. 6GW installed, 31GW "required."

    Simple maths: That's up to 5 times as many turbines as we have right now. Okay, some of the newer turbines will be more powerful, but all that means is that they will be bigger and more visible.

    Danny Alexander was head of Communications" for the CNP in 2004/5 and so he should understand totally the problems of windfarms. He should be thoroughly ashamed of himself.

    I wonder what his wife thinks about his double standards? She writes for a magazine that is dedicated to personal development and well-being.

  19. We also have to convince those like the person I am debating with on a Facebook thread who says he is concerned about the landscape but that climate change will do far more damage than wind turbines and that as the latter are part of the solution to climate change they are necessary everywhere.

  20. Hi Laura :-)
    Those were exactly my thoughts. It has to be worth a try.

  21. Alan - their perceptions of the world around them are completely different to yours or mine I believe.

    Don't get me wrong, I admire your positive thinking on this. I just believe that the Jimmy Grays of this world speak a different language and will never see what we see or, more importantly perhaps, feel.

  22. The simple argument against that, Chris, is spelled out in the Adam Smith Institute paper. After a wind energy penetration of less than 10% there is absolutely no CO2 savings at all - in fact CO2 emission is adversely affected.

    This has been found out in Ireland, Denmark & Germany. So, more wind turbines are not the answer in reducing CO2 emissions.

  23. tiThe problem Alan is people deny that. They "know" wind turbines will solve climate change.

  24. Councillor THOMAS PRAG

    I just read his comment and listened to his speech again.

    He is still a ------- ------.

    Sadly not the only one, by a very long way.

    The ignorance of the mass of the population, either by choice or by the brainwashing misinformation that they are fed by those with the funds and also the vested interest means that the fight is up hill.
    If you add to this volume the vast number who are just totally apathetic, you can see the magnitude of the fight.

    Then factor in the intransigent bloody mindedness of some of those in power, regardless of the facts.


  25. Chris
    Education, education, education... (I seem to recall a warmongering politician saying that...

    If governments won't tell the truth, even if their advisors are giving it to them straight, then someone has to step up and do it for them.

  26. Andy: Now's not the time to be depressed - after winning a battle, now's the time to feel refreshed and to be ready to take more on! Chin up, fella!

  27. Something to remind politicians:

    Scottish Planning Policy:

    "128. The most sensitive landscapes may have little or no capacity to accept new development. Areas of wild land character in some of Scotland's remoter upland, mountain and coastal areas are very sensitive to any form of development or intrusive human activity and planning authorities should safeguard the character of these areas in the development plan."

    There's more good stuff in there too.

  28. Councillors, ah, councillors. In my county, those from the West side, former mining country, have tried for years to get the East side, still largely rural, to accept blanket housing development that would destroy its character forever. I heard them hiss under their breath that they wanted the East side (traditional LibDem stronghold) to look as ugly as the West side (Labour since the Adam's days). Nice guys or what.

    Anyway, another for your archives, Alan:

    Up the road from me, we got the double whammy of first Griffin then Callacher. Callacher got approved. They never even started to dig the soil when the developer went back asking for more and bigger turbines. The council have given up fighting.

    We're fighting two wind farms that will dominate what is still a fantastically rural area. The developer has just resubmitted the application reducing number and size of turbines. Then once they get approval they'll go back and ask for amendments.

    It's a hopeless fight.

    And the additional trouble with councillor, apart from their eyesight problems, is that nine times out of ten they have very close links with local contractors who are the ones who gain most from wind farm developments.

    As for Chris' courageous arguing with his Facebook interlocutor, I'm sure he'll have come across that other fantastic argument by the wind supporters, that in reality the Highlands are not wild, it's a man made landscape so we can alter it no bother at all. I don't know where to begin to destroy that piece of nonsense (which is historically false as well).

  29. Something to remind politicians:

    Scottish Planning Policy:

    Do they read it though.
    If they do do they care?

    Al.. I am not depressed, I just ahve ANOTHER damned cold.

    Roll on Spring!

  30. I would not be too optimistic. I have obtained very rare footage of the Scottish parliament in action. It is not pretty....

  31. Chris: ""128. The most sensitive landscapes may have little or no capacity to accept new development. Areas of wild land character in some of Scotland's remoter upland, mountain and coastal areas are very sensitive to any form of development or intrusive human activity and planning authorities should safeguard the character of these areas in the development plan."

    For me, that would rule out the Monadhliath, Balmacaan Forest, Stronelairg - in fact, just about all windfarms in the wild hill country of Scotland.

  32. AndyB: That is incredibly depressing news. It is just incredible that Councils (or any other protesters,, for that matter) don't get automatic funding to ensure a level playing field in a planning argument.
    The developers can just come back again and again until the public's coffers run out. And, to make things worse, they just stick their own costs on the electricity bills of the consumer.

  33. Peter: Good video: Salmond and Swinney, my guess...

  34. As an added clue,
    the second word was NOT


  35. Alan, some bedtime reading for you:

  36. AndyB:
    That is a fascinating read.

    To summarise: With current pricing of CO2 emissions, wind energy saves virtually bugger-all CO2 emissions as when wind is used, it's gas that is shut down.

    If governments were to quadruple the penalties for CO2 emissions, wind energy would then start to replace coal fired energy, and reduce more CO2 emissions.

    Off shore wind is stupidly expensive and likely to remain so.

    We need to build twice as much interconnectivity with Norway than is currently planned.

    None of the extra costs associated with strengthening the National Grid have been taken into account when calculating these figures. None of the ruinous costs of running Gas Power stations at lower capacities when wind is preferred has been taken into account either.

    In a nutshell, wind power can be accommodated at significant investment in distribution, but only makes sense if the cost of CO2 emissions are quadrupled and then the cost to the consumer will be greatly increased.

    Running gas turbines at reduced efficiencies almost doubles the cost of the electricity they produce.

    We would be better off running nuclear alongside gas, in terms of price and CO2 emissions.

    Wind is a very expensive way of reducing our dependency on fossil fuels which makes very little effect on CO2 reductions.

  37. Cllr Gray is a very able politician. Many of his opposition are not. Inverness is not called Tesco Town for nothing. Most built on Mr. Gray's watch. Regretably he seems to see an open space and think how much better with a hypermarket and car park or windfarm on it. On another issue, I was once told that Mr. Salmond's mother had been an enthusiatic Hill Walker. Perhaps little Alex was taken along too and has a deep physcological lothing for the great outdoors. In other words he is not just bad, but mad!

  38. I nearly wrote to Gray after watching the webcast to explain why there were so few objections to Highland Council. The windfarm is known by all as Allt Duine but if you search for that in eplanning to make a Comment (i.e. object) you get no result because they call it something completely different. If that happens in my area (CWIF) I complain straightaway and make them change it. I have now complained to the Head of Planning so hope this won't happen in future.
    Also people don't realise they have to copy objections to the Council and ECU, as ECU don't forward objections to the Council.
    I spend a fair bit of time these days advising protest groups on the mechanics of objecting. Shouldn't have to.
    Fighting an Inquiry is a nightmare. Developers have bottomless purses. Objectors have to hold out the begging bowl.

  39. Brenda: If that is true it is shocking! What *do* Highland Council call it, then?

    Thank you for the heads-up on who to copy letters of objection to - I hadn't realised that.

  40. It's so long I had to look it up as can never remember
    "Land At Dunachton, Alvie And Dalraddy Estate Alvie Kincraig" . Obvious, or not? Glenmorie, until I complained was called "Kildermorie & Glencalvie Estates Ardgay" until I got it changed. I did suggest to the Monadhliath group that they should complain but seems they haven't. The Head of Planning promised to pass my message on but it obviously hasn't got through on Allt Duine. It's fine if you know the but if not, you've had it.
    HC are used to me complaining !


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