Thursday, 22 February 2018

New Fetteresso Wind Farm on the cards...

This is a holding post for the new Fetteresso wind power station. It will be lengthened in scope when I have time.

Here are the salient points.

  • The turbines are huge
  • It is simply an extension of the existing Mid Hill power station to the south and east.
  • Fred Olsen is extending the Mid Hill power station from 25 to 35 wind turbines.
  • The land is owned by the state, and run by Forestry Commission Scotland. 
  • Because of its size (50MW) there will be no local enquiry: it will be decided by the minister
  • In effect, it's a dead cert.

NB: The new turbines are to be between 150m and 200m high. These will be the largest turbines (so far) ever seen on land in the UK. They will all be visible from over 25 miles away to the west.



Many thank to HMP3 for the next image, which shows the quite shocking size of a 200m wind turbine.

Now,  you may well be thinking - That's Big! But it's only when you look at the swept area of the blades that it really hits home how *massive* a 200m high turbine actually is: The image below shows the pitch at Wembley Stadium tilted vertically compared to the area swept by the blades. The swept area is getting on for double the area of the Wembley Stadium Football pitch. That really is colossal!

More later, when I get some time.


  1. I rather think that this May could see my very last visit to Scotland.

    1. We need to have a chat about this over a beer or three. I've another route that has character, hostelries, wild places and only three day carries.

      Actually it's best discussed in the middle of a glorious peat bog in the sunshine with curlew calling, Sir. With a rather fine peaty/smokey whisky flask.

    2. We do need a chat.
      Last year was going to be my last, but a final reforming of the 3 Amigos was too big a draw. Next year however..??

    3. PS.. I will have the rather Peaty Whisky along with the final Vintage Sloe Gin.

  2. My comment from the TGOC message board, which Alan requested that I post here too. For contex, go to the message board.

    Unfortunately the over-reliance on surveys has pushed good old common sense into the background. Given that one of the main reasons (if not the main reason) that people visit the Scottish Highlands is its scenic beauty and wildness, it stands to reason that the visual intrusiveness of wind farms will have a negative impact on visitor numbers, albeit difficult to measure. Flip the argument on its head. Will more people be attracted to the Highlands be because of the aesthetic beauty of wind turbines? While many might be able to ingnore them, a minority, possibly a sizeable minority will decide to go elsewhere. Perhaps they will go elswhere in Scotland or the UK or even abroad.

    The proliferation of wind farms means that it has become increasingly difficult to avoid seeing them wherever you travel and that detracts from enjoying the natural beauty of the landscape, even if they only appear once or twice on a day’s excursion. For me, on last year’s Challenge, the intrusiveness of wind farms and hydro schemes from Glen Affric through to Kingussie definitely spoilt that leg of my trip. The Fetteresso wind farm and proliferation of wind farms along the coast also makes me unlikely to go that way again.

    Now my preferences, or indeed the preferences of Challengers are hardly likey to make or break the Scottish tourist industry. However if coach parties start to notice the wind farms in iconic places like Loch Ness and decide that visiting once is enough and that in future they’d rather tour somewhere else, then it will be a big problem for tourism in the Highlands.

    As Alan said, many tourist businesses are highly sensitive to load factors and a small decline at the margin can often mean that a profit becomes a loss and many small businesses have limited reserves to buffer themselves against fluctuating fortunes.

    The Fetteresso extension illustrates the cancer of wind farms. Once they are established, extensions are easy to “justify”. Once the visual amenity is spoilt, how can there be any objections? Not only that, the infrastructure is already there, so it’s a lot cheaper to develop.

    My fear is that the critical tipping point is past. The SNP seems hell bent on ramming through as many developments as possible and ride rough shod over local objections. Most of the votes in Scotland are in the central belt who probably don’t care about the aesthetics of landscape. Politicians (of all parties) seem more interested in virtue signalling their green credentials than looking critically at the scientific, engineering and economic arguments surrounding “renewable” energy.

    Unfortunately, the battle has been lost despite the valiant efforts of the JMT and MCoS, together with a number of individuals like Alan Sloman and Chris Townsend. The follies of mankind!

    1. Hello. The battle was never going to be won, but it was certainly worth fighting.

      I'm not sure that tourism will be much affected by windfarms, small hydro etc. Scotland had, it’s claimed, one of its best years ever for tourism last year. It was, apparently, mayhem on Skye with Visit Scotland actually asking that people stay away if they didn't have bookings. A few days ago it was announced that £300,000 worth of funding had been secured to expand car parks at The Fairy Pools and The Quiraing on Skye (100 spaces and 60 respectively); the North Coast 500 is very popular, giving a great boost to hotels and B&Bs; Inverewe Gardens, Culloden, Glenfinnan all had increased visitor numbers.

      I don't have figures for the number of walkers and climbers coming to Scotland or, perhaps more importantly, the numbers not coming because of windfarms, but my impression is not that there is a decline overall. Just the opposite.

      I loathe windfarms and what the SNP Government has done and continues to do to my country’s incomparable landscape, but I haven’t stopped walking the summits and glens and I don’t come across many walkers who say they’ll stop coming here because of the desecration of this or that area. They may not like it, but are enjoying the day on the hill all the same. Some aren’t bothered really and they’re not all from the Central Belt where many do care a lot, though I take your point.

      And skiers haven’t stopped coming to ski at Cairngorm just because there are windfarms on the Monadhliaths.

      I’m not a Challenger so tell me someone, are TGO Challenge applications rising or falling? My guess would be that they’re rising or stable, not falling, even though there are not that many options for a windfarm-free, small hydro-free crossing.

      The points you make have been made many times over and that’s not meant as a criticism in any way. I just don’t think you’re right. Even if you are, it won’t change a thing. The SNP Government will, with the help of the Green Party, bulldoze all in their way.

    2. Ah.
      Not quite so, Gibson.
      Yesterday I posted a couple of links to pdfs from Mountaineering Scotland on the effects of wind farms on tourism. When I get home this evening I'll pop them on here.

    3. I’ll be interested to see the figures if they show a trend Alan and also how the MC attribute the drop in tourist numbers specifically to windfarms ie how they controlled or accounted for all the other variables. One place I do know that did not have a great summer season last year is Braemar. Despite there being no windfarms, no Fife Arms and I think two B&Bs closed, there were beds available for much of the summer.

  3. Sorry Alan. Monadh Liath. I should have read more carefully before hitting 'Publish'. 'Monadhliaths' should be a hanging offence!

  4. Here are the two relevant documents. Both were prepared by Dr David S Gordon and published by Mountaineering Scotland in November 2017:

    Wind farms and tourism in Scotland: A review with a focus on mountaineering and landscape


    Supplement to Wind farms and tourism in Scotland

    It states in the discussion & conclusion section in the second document:

    20. It can be cautiously concluded, from the limited evidence available, that wind farms in locally designated landscapes have an adverse impact upon tourism-related employment in their local area. All three wind farms in such areas in this study lost employment (averaging -7%), compared with a Scottish increase of 15% between 2009 and 2015, and an increase of 35% in the vicinity of wind farms in non-designated areas.

    1. Thanks Alan. I haven’t as yet read the reports fully but at first glance the ‘cautious’ conclusion doesn’t seem to show that, ‘overall’, windfarms adversely affect tourism and more specifically, the numbers of hill walkers coming to Scotland.

      The author also states in his November 2017 report that “It seems unlikely that any robust independent research would conclude that windfarms are a threat to more than a minority of the tourist market in Scotland” He estimates that the minority to be between 1 - 5%.

      Truth is perhaps that we don’t really know at the moment although if the evidence shows my opinion on something is wrong, I change my view. For now I’m not convinced there is such evidence. In any event, I still despise the bloody things!

    2. I think a 22% differential in employment says a great deal.
      Why else would hoteliers be up in arms in the Highlands when the Wind Carpetbaggers come to call? Tourism in the Highlands makes up a large percentage of the employment and it's in the Highlands that the most receptive tourist will be found. Hence the figures quoted in the second paper.

      It's still bloody awful. :-(

    3. A crumb of comfort: the proposed Annabaglish windfarm in Galloway has been rejected by the reporter.

      I read the report's conclusions as being very cautious in tone regarding the effects of windfarms on tourism but time will tell. By the way, I hate the debate I'm having with you because it seems like I'm defending the montrous things and that makes me uneasy.

      Finally on this subject and it saddens me to say this:it just doesn't matter. The SNP Government won't stop the push for onshore windfarms and the Highlands and Islands still vote SNP. Worst still Labour want a tourist tax. Can you believe it? Tax tourists, build more windfarms, factor in Scotland's weather and kiss goodbye to tourism altogether!

    4. Oh blimey, Gibson! Please don't think I'm being confrontational on this! You were always way ahead of me in realising that the SNP Scottish Government were hell-bent on their Idiotic Wind-Power Station mania and that they would push it though regardless of the opposition.

      I felt, until recently, that it was worth giving it a damn good go, but after Stronelairg and wind farms pushing into Assynt I realised that the game was up.

      I thought the Annabaglish Reporter's comments were interesting as he implied that a bigger wind farm might have been acceptable to him.

      Labour's tourist tax: You really couldn't make it up...

      And, breathe...

    5. No, I didn't think you were being confrontational Alan. I think it's fair to say that you have contributed more than anyone else I know in the fight against windfarm development and I would be surprised if any of your readers said otherwise.

      I hope the reporter wasn't using code for 'submit a bigger project'. One gets cynical after a while.


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