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Thursday, 12 February 2015

Cnoc an Eas windfarm; an Eskdale Moor excrescence

Lovers of the wild places had best look away now, for those who enjoy the less-well frequented corners of Scotland are about to lose another little gem.

Of course it was inevitable. Once the 220km long Beauly-Denny 400kv pylon run had been approved (replacing the old 132kv line) it was inevitable that very large wind farms would spring up along its length, with the lure of guaranteed returns. The consumer – that’s you and me – are paying for this madness in our electricity bills. For every kettle of water you boil, you pay well over double for the electricity if it comes from an onshore windfarm, and over three times if it comes from an offshore windfarm.

These extra costs are made up of Renewable Obligation Certificates, extra costs for the new transmission network (like the Beauly-Denny line), extra payments made to the conventional electricity generators for ramping down their production when the wind blows hard and it swamps the grid, plus a few other nice little earners like BMPs (Balancing Mechanism Payments) and LECs (Renewable Levy Exemption Certificates.)

This provides a jolly nice return for windfarm investors, and they trouser the cash relentlessly. As their bank balances pile up the stock of Britain’s wild land is eroded at an astonishing rate. The already rich Scottish landowners also trouser suitcase-fulls of twenty pound notes every day in rentals. Even the local communities get a bribe to ‘host’ the local windfarms, though in the overall scheme of things they are getting the crumbs from the table.

So what and where is Cnoc an Eas wind farm? It’s seventeen wind turbines set high up on the lip of Eskdale Moor, with stunning views. Each turbine is 126.5m tall; that’s 415 English feet. That’s Very Big.

Here it is:

cnoc an eas scoping-page-035

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Note: All those other yellow boxes are also windfarms. You’ll notice that Cnoc an Eas plugs a rather awkward gap between windfarms for any walker heading from the west coast to the east coast of Scotland.

Here it is again:

cnoc an eas scoping-page-6

CLICK TO ENLARGE

And now, let’s get up close and personal:

cnoc an eas scoping-page-7

CLICK TO ENLARGE

It’s ghastly, isn’t it? Any TGO Challenger heading for Drumnadrochit from either Struy (walking across the fabulous Eskdale Triangle or from Cannich to Drum will not be able to miss these beauties.  Force 9 Energy (the developer) has struck a deal to sell the wind farm on immediately after planning approval to EDF, which is a massive French energy company. As I understand it Force 9 Energy are being funded by EDF.

But from where will we be able to see this excrescence?

The developer has to provide a “Zone of Theoretical Visibility” map in his Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Report. And so let’s enjoy another map together; you can never have too many maps, can you?

Cnoc an Eas ZTV map

CLICK TO ENLARGE

It’s not a pretty sight, is it? I want you to scroll back up to the first map in this piece, and take another look at all the other wind farms on that map. It doesn’t take the mind of a genius to realise that this part of Scotland is going to be totally and utterly trashed. Ruined beyond belief.

But (and this is the funny bit – if you enjoy a little gallows humour) it doesn’t end there. As we have learned a few months back from the Stronelairg wind farm, these power stations need connecting up to the new Beauly-Denny transmission line. Let’s take a look at the Beauly-Denny map of this area. Here you go:

Fasnakyle substatiion

I had a chat with those awfully nice people at Force 9 and they told me they were going to connect to the Beauly-Denny line at the Fasnakyle substation. So this means that there will be a seven or eight mile pylon run from the windfarm to the substation. Why not, eh? In for a penny in for a pound! If we are going to fuck up this heavenly little part of Scotland, let’s make a proper job of it.

So, my old beauties: What do we all think about this? Over to you:

(And look – I know I said “fuck” quite vehemently and loudly, but let’s not scare the horses, eh? Ta.)

28 comments:

  1. Agree 100%, well said. I've recently been walking the Wolds Way in East Yorks and part of this classic walk has been ruined by the folly of badly sited wind farms

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    1. Hi Andrew, and thank you for taking the time to comment.

      It always amazes me that even people who defend wild land from the turbine invasion are prepared to say "Well, of course I support wind in the right places..."

      Let's be honest: There is no right place in the UK for 125m turbines. The UK is a very crowded place. We need to protect our wild places, which means that these people are saying that the turbines should be placed nearer the populations that require the energy. This of course brings massive protest, as the folk who live nearby do not want wind turbines destroying their views and devaluing their homes.

      Wind turbines produces very expensive energy. They force up the price of conventionally generated electricity. They devalue property. They put more and more families into fuel poverty. They make a TINY contribution to CO2 reduction. In short they are a complete and utter con-trick, that line the pockets of foreign energy companies and already rich landowners.

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  2. Until a media outlet with comprehensive national coverage takes up this story and runs a detailed exposé of what has happened/is happening/will continue to happen, we are totally (heeding the warning, here) copulated with. This should obviously be the job of the BBC, but apparently it isn't and there's probably no point in revisiting that (even though I just have).

    That there isn't seen to be a 'story' in this astounds me; actually, it doesn't, it arouses suspicions. What we are paying as consumers, as taxpayers - and if you're both you get to cough up twice - where the money is ending up (bearing in mind where ownership of the companies, and the land, resides), all of this, in aggregate, doesn't add up to news? Really?

    At a time when the public purse strings are stretched taut enough to snap and the market, when it suits, rules all, we can apparently afford to subsidise foreign-owned energy companies which are already profitable, but not retain the most efficient of the railway franchises in public ownership. Subsidies from UK taxpayers in at one end; dividends to overseas shareholders out at the other; fuel poverty at historically high levels and rising. But still nothing to see here; apparently.

    Problem is, I'm becoming desensitised, which is dangerous.

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    1. Hi Dave, and thanks for your excellent comment.
      In general the media are in the same bind as the politicians. Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the World Wildlife Fund, in concert with the BBC have for the last fifteen years been banging out the message that electricity produced from wind farms is "Green Energy"
      Of course it is nothing of the sort, but this message pervades every single message that these charlatans pump out constantly. They have been so effective in their propaganda that the general public (in general) actually believe this crap.
      It is going to take a strong politician to take a stance against such widely held beliefs. It will take a strong media business to do the same. IN the USA right wing outfits like Fox have tried, but the trouble is, everyone knows that they are pretty nasty outfit and are generally despised by any sane person. So the good message that they are trying to get our there (against wind farms) gets lost by the opprobrium heaped upon the messenger.

      Over here it's just the FT and the Telegraph (from the broadsheets) and the seemingly universally despised Mail (amongst the left-wing) who put the anti-wind farm cause. Of course there's UKIP as well, but they suffer the same fate as Fox.

      We need a respected scientist, nearing the end of his career, to take a firm stand against this con-trick. Quite a few years ago david Bellamy did this. His career with the BBC came to an instant stop; he was never employed by them again.

      It's a bloody nightmare, but these days there are more and more people who have come to realise that wind is a complete nonsense. The trouble is it hasn't happened anywhere near quickly enough, and so Scotland and parts of Wales is doomed to carpets of bloody windfarms.

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    2. Being an unreconstructed old lefty myself, you can't imagine how much this exasperates me; well, actually, you probably can.

      Here we have a market being manipulated (contorted would be a better word) to the benefit of wealthy corporations and the detriment of the consumer and taxpayer: an open goal for the left, wouldn't you think? An opportunity to offer a genuinely radical alternative on a major policy area? An opportunity to raise awareness of one of the prime contributors towards fuel poverty? Exactly the kind of issue a Labour opposition should be thumping the despatch box over? Apparently not: because not only does Ed not actually disagree with policy, he's an outspoken advocate for it, as are many of his front bench colleagues.

      Oh and, I almost forgot, not at all concerned about plastering just about every hectare of unspoilt land (of which we have precious little enough already) with industrial hardware. Just by way of a bonus.

      If I was advising Milliband - an unlikely proposition, me not being a 22-year-old, fresh up from Balliol or Corpus Christi - I would nag him on this subject until he agreed to a U-turn, if only to shut me up . Bevan would have taken a flame-thrower to the lot of them by now - the front bench and the turbines!

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    3. Dave, as usual you have hit the nail on the head.

      I find it obscene that at a time of such austerity the party whose whole reason for being is to protect workers' rights is shoving money into already rich foreign businesses bank accounts and the super-rich landowners in the UK - quite a few of which live in tax-havens where they pay no tax at all.

      Labour's, the SNP's and the LibDems' behaviour disgusts me. If it wasn't for the need to keep a stable government I believe Osborne would have stopped the wind scam in its tracks. The LibDems should be roasted in hell.

      And yes - your analysis of the recruits to all political parties is spot on. It used to be that MPs were drawn from business (the Tory party) and the working man (the Labour party) (okay a bit of a generalisation there - forgive me) but these days they come straight from Oxbridge to work for MPs as researchers before being sent to a constituency as a reliable party man.

      Until this changes we are doomed to an electorate that is more and more alienated from the MPs who no longer represent them at all.

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  3. The planners are a bunch of utter... (better stop there)

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    1. Hi Roger, and thank you for your comment.
      Succinctly put, Sir.

      If readers haven't visited Roger's blog, please make an effort now. It's a mine of information, and he takes apart the "climate alarmists" very effectively.

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  4. Thanks for keeping us all informed, Alan. The green blob strikes again. Saving the environment by trashing it. Thanks a bunch power companies and SNP.

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    1. Of course, the SNP are massively to blame for the incredible wind-rush in Scotland as they voluntarily increased Scotland's target three-fold for energy produced by renewables.

      You have to remember that any increase in renewable energy in Scotland comes with a 95% certainty that it will be from wind, as all the major hydro sites are already developed, tidal is dead in the water (excuse the pun) and biomass a complete nonsense, so much so that even the Guardian now says so!

      Offshore wind in Scotland is virtually dead (even though three big wind farms have been given the go-ahead) as the Westminster cap on subsides effectively makes them uneconomic - let alone the engineering difficulties with a deeper sea bed and much higher speed storms.

      So - It's just onshore wind - which means that Scotland's uplands are doomed. Thank You Very Much Alec Salmond. He'll be remembered for dividing scotland down the middle with his failed referendum and for destroying Scotland's fabulous countryside.

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    2. Dear Alan,

      I noticed a slight slip of the pen in your reply above when you said that "tidal is dead in the water (excuse the pun)". However I feel certain that you meant to say "wave power is dead in the water".
      Two weeks ago Meygen's sub-contractors moved on to a farm site here in Caithness, on the shores of the Pentland Firth near Canisbay. Their aim being to lay a road down to the shore in order to begin construction of the DC power conversion buildings, directionally drill bore holes from the shore into the Firth and set cableways inland to the nearest electrical grid point. This directional rock drilling is scheduled to last for 1 year at a continuous 24 hrs per day and 7 days per week. A concession has been made in the interests of tourism that the drilling will be carried out only during the winter months, in two blocks of six months at a time. Local people are deemed to be able to fend for themselves during these same periods.

      The first stage (Phase 1A) of the project will comprise the installation of four 1.5 megawatt turbines under water offshore, as well as the aforementioned onshore infrastructure to support the project. Three of the turbines will be supplied by Andritz Hydro Hammerfest and one Lockheed Martin-designed turbine supplied by Atlantis: see http://www.meygen.com/2014/09/51-million-meygen-financial-close-
      completed/ for the details.

      Scotland's dear (ex) leader, wee Alec, had also promised another £10 million in the form of the Saltire prize (world's largest innovation prize). The winner will be the individual, team or organisation that achieves the greatest volume of electrical output over the set minimum hurdle of 100 gigawatt hours over a continuous two year period, using only the power of the sea. Of course generation subsidies are ready to rear their ugly heads as well; each MWh produced will earn 5 ROCs', thus making this the world's most expensive electricity to date, at around £300 per MWh wholesale. The Saltire prize winning amount (100GWh) would net Meygen £25 million in subsidies alone plus the £10 million if it wins the prize, so the first 100 GWh will have cost the poor electricity user £35 million in subsides, or £350 per MWh, which equates to about £400 per MWh wholesale.

      There might be a danger that the foreign players in this project could suffer severe dehydration, as they must be hyper salivating over the potential sudden riches bestowed on them on our behalf, by both the Scottish and UK governments.

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    3. Thanks for the correction 'Anon' - you are of course correct.
      :-)
      Christ on a Bike though! Why do they insist on playing with these tidal flow turbines? Again - they are intermittent (okay more predictable than wind) and so we'll still have the problem of dumping excess power onto the grid at low demand points or paying the bastards well in excess of the £300/MW. The engineering behind all marine schemes is massively maintenance heavy and so this just seem slike total insanity!
      :-(

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  5. Hey Alan

    You missed my figures out! Take the 35km (nearly 22 miles) Zone of Theoretical Visibility line from proposed Cnoc an Eas and start counting. After correcting F9E cock ups we get to 527 industrial turbines constructed, approved or in planning. With a very absent SNH wind farm map update (due out Aug 2014) and an even more absent Scottish government Renewables Routemap update (due out Dec 2014) and no answer yet from energy minister, Fergus Ewing, to my request of 'where are they?' we have to do our own sums. The Highland Council map - due out at end of January is ....still not available. It is supposed to being presented to the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee before being made public but, surprise surprise, it doesn't seem to be on the agenda for the meeting. The June 2014 Highland Council wind farm map / listing shows around 1500 turbines constructed, approved or in planning across the whole of the Highland area. If we have now found 527 within a 22 mile radius WTF is the new listing going to show? Call me a cynic but I reckon SNH and SG ....and maybe THC are going to sit on the truly horrific numbers of turbines proposed across Scotland until after the general election! Why else keep the numbers secret - unless there are just too many to count.

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    1. Hi Lyndsey
      Sorry about that - but thankfully you have stepped in and corrected this glaring error. I've been putting together three posts about wind farms in Scotland that will appear in the next couple of weeks, and I simply forgot to include your valuable contribution. Guilty as charged!
      In the appalling absence of the maps from Highland Council I have tried to get the raw data, but they were unwilling to hand it over. I am absolutely sure this is politically motivated. The SNP are now on the defensive on wind (at last) and must surely realise this it could muddy the election for them.

      I think Dave (B) in his second comment has the politics spot on. It is absolutely disgraceful that the Labour party is promoting wind farms - it goes against everything they stand for. Miliband is already known as an electoral liability and history will surely nail the wind fraud firmly on him.

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  6. Quick buck boys at again! As you say Salmon played(s) a big part in all this. The sad thing is we can absolutely nothing to stop it. Thanks for keeping it high profile in the outdoor world.
    It's a national disgrace that many people don't know ( or care) what is happening.
    Thanks Alan I always forward your blog to as many friends as possible to widen the knowledge of what's happening in Scotland.
    IanB

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    1. I don't think I have any friends left. It's embarrassing how many so-called "outdoor" people turn a blind eye to this. Suggests to me that, all along, they were just exploiting the outdoors the way you might exploit a swimming pool or a race track. Surroundings not important.

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    2. Thank you Ian.

      The average hill walker is probably no different to the average man in the street, but I believe our hillwalkers should be more aware of the "wind problem" as they see at first hand what is happening. I believe it is their duty (I believe it *is* mine) to find out about and rail against this dreadful scam.

      Please, please continue letting your friends know about it, Sir!
      :-)

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    3. Hi Jane.
      :-)
      God - Tell me. I understand what you say completely. I was told by many of my friends to "Leave it, Al - it won't make any difference whatsoever"

      As it is, after this year I'm determined not to walk the TGO Challenge in Scotland ever again - I have no wish to walk through the Loch Ness Ring of Steel. If I do return to Scotland it will e to areas where there are no wind farms.

      However, as you'll see from my next post (coming Sunday evening) that that is going to be more and more difficult.

      An you're right. If we enjoy these fabulous, magnificent landscapes we have a duty to fight for their preservation, otherwise we are just users - takers - not willing to give anything back for those magnificent days and nights out in the hills.

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    4. Hi Alan, I've been allowing myself a few weeks' grace and playing in the snow, trying not to let the wind turbine glue engulf me (again). However, that can't last. Referring to one of your posts below, the JMT are getting the funds to fight Stronelairg because people like me, breathless with dread and poised on the edges of our seats waiting to find out whether our reason for living is about to be snuffed, are donating what we can. Visited Ma near Dumfries yesterday, running the gauntlet of the turbines suffocating the M74 corridor. If Scotland were to be judged on that stretch alone ... And, as you exit the motorway on to the A road to Dumfries, you glimpse the turbines - and the clear felling that supports them - all along the way. Wind farm now proposed above Collin, where my relatives live. One aunt heard at a local Women's Guild meeting that turbines are efficient and send electricity south of the border, so she innocently passes this information on to me, convinced she knew what the hell she was talking about. I couldn't hold back, feeling guilty all the while and yet knowing it was unacceptable NOT to speak up. Dear God, this is well-meaning ignorance and apathy in action. Why bother ascertaining the truth behind developers' statements when you really don't care about anything beyond your own 3-mile radius?

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    5. Hi Jane. The only way of stopping this well-meaning ignorance is through good communication of the facts about wind farms. I've been banging on about them and how they are not going to save the planet for quite a few years now, and in that time I believe I have persuaded people to see that they are nothing but a scam.

      I also wrote about the JMT's Stronelairg appeal for funds back in October 2014, HERE and am a supporter of the fund myself.

      It is a good reminder and so if anyone hasn't yet donated to help the JMT fight Stronelairg and feels they really out to, please click on that link and you'll find out how to.
      Thank you.

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  7. Don't totally despair. These applications can be stopped, but it takes hard work, stubborn determination and finding expert help. Our record? 6-0 so far and fighting more.

    The Reporters who hear appeals are reasonable men and women -- they listen to the evidence put in front of them. If that evidence says the developers information is rubbish, wrong and badly done they will say so. If they find that the effects will be awful, they say that too (in Reporter speak). It helps to get the Council to do their stuff, and I know that is not always easy, so sustained lobbying and detailed reasoned criticism of applications is essential.

    Here in the Borders opinion has swung decisively against what is happening. We haven't stopped it yet, but we are NOT going to give up. Opposition to individual applications is now far more effective than just two or three years ago.

    With the landscape you are talking about being so dramatic, and therefore highly valued by some at least, you have a head start. Ever heard anyone raving about the Borders landscape in the same terms as the Highlands?

    So good luck with the fight!

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    1. It's a bit like paying protection money to a really big kid in the playground to make him stop the bully nicking your school dinner money isn't it?

      Why should protest groups have to fork out huge sums of dosh to lawyers and planning consultants to stop carpet baggers screwing up their countryside? The carpet baggers have bottomless pockets (they'll get the money back from the electricity consumer).

      It just seems insane to be forced into court. Right now the John Muir Trust are waiting the outcome of the Stronelairg appeal - they spent three days in court - so God only knows how this charity raised the funds - funds that really should be spent on preserving wild land. Okay - the money is well spent if it stops Stronelairg, as it will set a massive precedent and they should get their costs back. But it makes me bleed to think how many communities are spending money they have not really got just to defend their countryside.

      I am delighted that your track record is so good, but as I understand it the Borders are currently swamped with applications - and quite a few consented wind farms too.

      It's all utterly depressing.

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  8. Another!!
    https://backpackingbongos.wordpress.com

    The March of the windmills!

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    1. Hi Ian.
      Thank you for the link to James' excellent piece. You'll see as you were typing that I was busy tapping away at my old Remington myself. James and I arranged to post on this subject together, such is the enormity of situation. (I was a bit late posting as it got more and more involved!)
      If you look at the most recent post you'll see I've covered it to.
      :-)

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  9. Great minds think alike ! Glad to see your posting. It's all very worrying and feel helpless to stop it

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  10. As I keep on telling the world !!!!" It's always about the almighty Dollar $$$$$$$$$$$$..The fact is ! There is no safe distance for wind Turbines, NOT GREEN, NOT CHEAP, NOT RELIABLE, and come with a very BAD side EFFECT on people and the ENVIRONMENT. there is Nothing GREEN about WIND TURBINES . SAY NO TO WIND TURBINES.

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    1. InDEEd AnDREas.
      Have a click on the "Wind Power Stations" Label on the RH column of this blog for more inforMATION.
      (And the capitals Are Important Here!)
      :-)

      Delete

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