Sunday, 30 October 2016

Planning a wind farm-free TGO Challenge 2017

In the light of the Conservative UK Government's recent axing of new wind farms' subsidies (The removal of ROCs and LECs) and the corresponding sudden drop in the number of new applications, I wondered how a new TGO Challenger might go about planning a wind farm-free route across Scotland for 2017.

Just over two years ago, I wrote a piece titled "Planning a wind farm-free TGO Challenge 2015." I would encourage you to take a moment to refresh your memory. It was quite a popular post, with almost three thousand visits. Of course, there have been quite a few new wind farms that have been approved, or are under construction or have been completed in the years since I wrote that piece. 

The simplest way for a new Challenger to plan a route that avoids wind farms is to have the information available on a map. Of course the SNP Scottish Government, whose policy it is to have wind farms plastering the Highlands, do not provide such a beast. They certainly do not want the full horror of the carnage to be easily available to the public, do they?

There has been a really good effort to log the position of wind farms (and a host of other renewables as well) for the whole of the UK, and THIS MAP shows the wind farms, but only provides an indication of the location and not in relation to landforms, paths and tracks etc, that a walker needs to plan a route. It also requires a subscription, but after spending an hour trying to subscribe, unsuccessfully, I gave up. 

So, I set out to find wind farm maps that cover the TGO Challenge's bounds. Most of the Challenge area is covered by the following planning authorities: 


           In the north & west:     Highland (20)
           In the northeast:          Moray (19)
           In the east:                  Aberdeenshire (17)
           In the east:                  Angus (16)
           In the southeast:         Perth & Kinross (23)
           In the southwest:         Argyll & Bute (22)

So I went to each of the Councils' websites to see if I could find current maps of the status of wind farms in their areas, ie., wind farms being scoped, in planning, approved, in construction or built. Presumably because resources are very stretched, not all the councils have such maps. But where they do I have included them in this piece.

Here is what I have found so far:


After a few years of dreadful inactivity, Highland Council now has a pretty good online resource, albeit missing the vital information of wind farms that are being scoped by developers. 

This is what their online map looks like for a chunk of the Challenge area:


You can zoom in and click on each wind farm to get the location and size of every turbine, in relation to the surrounding area at 1:50k scale O.S. mapping. 


You certainly would not want to plan a route up the track following the River E, would you? It runs right through the centre of Corriegarth Wind Farm. I can tell you from personal experience, it was utterly ghastly.

To summarize: The Highland Council interactive map is very good, although it sorely needs scoped wind farms to be included. It is ten months out of date; the last update being January 2016. It can be found by clicking: 

Next up? 


Moray Council's map is not good. In fact, it's pretty poor: It is a downloadable pdf that shows the approximate location of each wind farm, in two versions: Turbines up to 50m in height and turbines over 50m. Each location is numbered and there are tables below the map that give details of each wind farm. 

It looks like this:


However, Moray do show wind farms that are being scoped by developers. It can be found by clicking :

Next up?


What can I say? I couldn't find anything on Aberdeenshire's website. Now, it may be that I'm looking in the wrong place, and if so, please could someone correct me. But I believe this is pretty poor. But perhaps the following interactive map provided by "Concerned about Wind Turbines in Aberdeenshire" explains why there is no map. It is deeply shocking:


Every single turbine is located on excellent O.S. mapping. This is a credit to whoever built this map. It can be found by clicking:

Next up?


Now then. I may be wrong, but I have searched high and low for a map showing wind farms in Angus on the Council website. But there is nothing. At all. They do, however, have a downloadable pdf on where developers are welcome to apply for planning permission for wind farms. 

This is deeply shameful. If anyone can correct me on this, please let me know in the comments section and I will amend the post. In this area I would use the very first resource I mentioned earlier. Click: 

Next up?


Another excellent map, from the Perth & Kinross Council website However, it does not show wind farms that are being scoped by developers. 

It looks like this:


It can be found by clicking:

And lastly:



At first glance, this interactive map looks promising, but when you come to click on the individual wind farms you realise that the map is like a cheap chocolate Easter Egg: Beautifully presented, but sod all inside - not even a bag of Smarties. There is precious little information on the wind farms or the position of turbines. If it isn't on the O.S. map's own information, it's unlikely to be on this web-map. It shows the likely location only. Still, I suppose it's better than nothing.  It can be found by clicking:

So there you have it. If you want to plot a route across Scotland that avoids the worst of the wind farms, you're going to have your work cut out, but this post should be of help.

Good luck with your planning. I hope to see you on the walk if we are lucky in the draw for places.

If anyone can find better resources or maps please let me know in the comments section. Thank you.


  1. Makes you weep when you see the destruction of Scotland ☹️️

  2. There was a really good and up to date map produced by Angus Communities Windfarm Action Group ACWAG but it seems to be offline at the moment.

  3. Probably a good idea not to eat baked beans either ;-)

  4. Thanks for this! I'll definitely be using it as a reference point if I get in again this year.

    1. Thank you.
      It's great to hear that you're coming back, Brian.

  5. Thanks for the great work Alan! I'm a TGO reject so far this year, but I will surely use the information on my Cape Wrath trail route if I eventually rise to that challenge ... Paul M

    1. It's hateful being on the Standby List, but not if you have a decent number.
      I'll keep my fingers crossed for you, Paul.

    2. One of the problems fighting wind farm development is that there is no collective body decimating simple clear information to the public. General y as a rule people will not trudge through a variety of websites and blogs to create an overall picture of what’s happening in Scotland. It would be useful if someone, with the necessary webpage creating skills, could produce a webpage that has map for the whole of Scotland; thereby showing what already exists and what is proposed.

      I wanted to see the Stronelairg map but I couldn’t find it; I’m sure there is one but like most people I gave up after 15 minutes of searching. If no one creates a page which outlines clearly the actual range of destruction by these companies, who are in league with Holyrood, then the Scottish landscape looks doomed; they will continue to nimble and take large chunks of it until it no longer matters.

      A large map for the whole Scotland would definitely open up people’s eyes about what is happening.

    3. Hello there, "YouF'coffee", and welcome to the blog.

      You are absolutely correct - there is no public body disseminating simple, clear information with regard to the location of wind farms in Scotland.

      And that's why I wrote this post. I did supply a link to a website that does show the position of all the built wind farms and also the Highland Council map that shows constructed, in planning and scoped wind farms. And links to all the other Highland regions that supply wind farm information.

      I don't think you looked very hard for a windfarm map of Stronelairg, as a simple search for that term on this blog supplies you with a map of the access tracks and the individual turbines and met masts from the power station.


      I agree with you - a single map showing all this information would certainly op[en folk's eyes to the carnage in our hills.

    4. Hmmm. I wonder. After climbing Sron a'Choire Ghairbh by Lochy Lochy on Sunday and choosing NOT to go on to climb Ben Tee, the Corbett, because I could see it had a grandstand view of massed wind turbines that were shocking enough from my munro, I looked on-line for recent walk reports of Ben Tee ascents. Only two of them bothered to mention the turbines and pictured them. To read the others, you'd never have known the turbines were there. Are people in denial or do they just not care? If it's the latter, Scotland's landscapes are as good as dead.

    5. Hi Jane.

      They're in denial.

      McNeish is a case in point. He doesn't recall seeing any wind turbines on his trips up Munros. There again, he wrote his Corbett Almanac without having finished the Corbetts.

      My trip across Scotland in six weeks' time has been planned to avoid the worst of the eyesores, and that has taken a fair bit of effort. But I'll guarantee I'll end up disappointed.

    6. With a bit of luck the wind will either be so strong that all turbines will be resting, or so feeble that none will turn anyway. You might just manage not to lock eyes on them. I find once you've noticed them you just can't stop looking at them - but how to avoid it?

    7. That's so true, Jane.
      They're like an eye magnet...


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