Welcome to the Highlands, the land of sparkling Burns, The Heather hughed Glens, High Mountains where the Eagles soar, a land of Deer and Salmon, Kilts and Pipes. The Corbetts, the Grahams and the Monros. A place to revitalise the Spirit and the Soul. This is a land of proud people, people that will give any man the time of day.
But today a certain sadness pervades all. In a desperate drive for fame our politicians have sold Scotland and its wild places to the lowest bidder. The march of the wind factories is heard in the Glens. Tourism for Scotland is dead. Our way of life crushed beneath the greed of mostly foreign adventurers and aided by our Government and Planners.
This is the opportunity for all you to have your say and perhaps we will save something for our children.
The first great requisite of motive power is; that it shall be wholly at our command, to be exerted when, and where, and in what degree we desire.The wind, for instance, as a direct motive power, is wholly inapplicable to a system of machine labour, for during a calm season the whole business of the country would be thrown out of gear.
William Stanley Jevons (1865)
“God never made an ugly landscape. All that sun shines on is beautiful, so long as it is wild.”
— John Muir
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”
Only part of the Spanish press covers the story, and television channels ignore it so far. The wind business is taboo in this country, where Greenpeace and other wind-crazy NGOs have a huge audience.
Tax inspectors have only started to reveal their findings in this complex web of corruption: €110 million worth of illegal commissions paid in Castilla y León, one of Spain’s 17 states (Spain is a de facto federation of 17 “autonomous communities”: Catalonia, Valencia, Andalusia, the Basque country, etc.). The Spanish IRS is presently investigating in other states. At the national level, illicit enrichment at the cost of taxpayers could easily top one billion euros.
Unexplained payments to public officials received from Switzerland, shares in obscure windfarm companies resold for hundreds, even thousands of times the initial capital invested, home mortgages paid off by opaque entities, homes renovated by…
New regulations will include increasing the setback distance for the turbines, creating tighter noise restrictions, eliminating turbine flicker for the homes of nonparticipating residents, and a ban on wind development within three miles of the Lake Huron shoreline. This three-mile no-windmill zone was recommended by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Jack Spencer — CapCon — April 14, 2015
Local officials at Michigan’s ground zero for wind energy are telling wind developers “enough is enough.” Huron County has 328 wind turbines, more than all of the other Michigan counties combined. But it has just enacted a moratorium on any additional ones until stricter regulations for industrial wind turbines can be put in place.
“What this means is no turbines for people who don’t want them,” Huron County Commissioner John Nugent said. “The people who want them can still have them as long as it doesn’t adversely affect their neighbors.”
A video from France that exposes all that we have experienced. As the French Government runs cold on Nuclear which has served them so well in the past the wind lobby is there with the wild promises. The video has English subtitles. Where have we heard all this before?
I stood under blue skies and hot sun, after stopping to strip down to just a baselayer. A welcome relief after three days of freezing temperatures and limited visibility. The high plateau stretched into the far distance, every gully and hag of the brown moor still filled with snow. For a while I was transported back to Arctic Sweden, such was the scale of the scene. It was day four of a solo backpack and I had yet to see another human being.
The Monadhliath have long held a magnetic draw for me, unlike any other place in Scotland. It is predominantly moorland in nature, although in places it does rise above the magic 3000 feet. High plateaus split by long lonely glens, perfect for the backpacker.
My attention for five days over the Easter weekend was a leisurely exploration of the area where the consented Stronelairg wind farm will sit. 67 huge…
Those that live in an urban environment welcome wind turbines as a clean convenient technology. After all they live with the continuous noise of cars, trains and people. What are the rural dwellers complaining off? Well hopefully this will open their eyes and ears to what it is like to host their “Clean Green” energy. Then they might just start looking at the reality of an energy source that is anything but clean, anything but green, cannot deliver to demand, doesn’t work 80% of the time and is truly “the neighbour from HELL”. Then if they need more convincing, we could point out that it is making conventional energy and nuclear energy economically not viable as they need to operate 24/7/365 to balance the books and with preference to wind when it is available(20% of the time) that is something which is increasingly difficult to attain. Then they may look at the sums and see that this technology cannot stand on it’s own feet but needs heavy subsidies which they are paying. Will this urbanites then understand that to support wind just plays into the PR exercise of multi nation off-shore corporations with no interest in the UK save as a milch cow, for a technology which is built overseas and installed by mostly foreign labour. Will they then understand that their jobs are reliant on an economical energy market, not one eschewed by expensive renewable energy. As long as their plasma TVs and iPads work and provide sanitised, turbine free, images of our rural landscape on programs such as Countryfile, they just don’t care a Damn! They will continue to fill in YouGov polls to save they support wind farms and renewable energy, just as long as it is not in their back yards. After all Climate Change and Global warming is the New Religion!
When the colours start to assert themselves, then you really appreciate what we have. Another few days and it will be another landscape and that is the point with the Highlands. The landscape changes with the sun and the clouds, the different colours from the brown heather, the black peat hags, the greening of the spring to the purple of autumn, and the winter snows. It is an ever changing landscape and that we and our visitors never tire of. in a few moments the light can change from sun to darkness, the reds of morning and evening. And whilst the lights move across the vista, there is a permanence to that landscape. Not to be destroyed by the ‘sometimes’ moving blades of turbines introducing a discordant note into the land or the sharp angles of an industrial goliath.
Longannet power station is a bit of a monster. At 2,400 megawatts capacity, the huge plant on the banks of the Forth can keep the lights on for most of Scotland.
Recently, it’s been sweating its 42-year-old sinews to do so, particularly when the wind drops and all those turbines stop supplying the power grid.
The Fife monster’s days were numbered, however. While burning all that coal, it was facing a steeply-rising bill for emissions. And once it has burned through its licence conditions, it was due to close in 2020. That was the intention of government policy, and it has had cross-party support.
However, that date is almost certain to be brought forward to March 2016, following Longannet’s failure to win the National Grid auction for back-up supply to ensure voltage remains steady.
With closure, 270 jobs will go, plus those in the supply chain, including freight operations form Hunterston. Scotland’s struggling coal industry will struggle even more.
The green lobby won’t be shedding a tear. But the sense of political crisis around Longannet exposes a large gap in planning for the country’s greener energy future.
To explain, let’s back up. Scotland has been producing more thermal power than it needs, from coal, nuclear, hydro and increasingly – when the weather’s right – from wind.
So it has long been an exporter of power. And given a strong breeze, exports are getting bigger. That’s why more capacity is required to transfer that power to population centres in England and beyond, into the increasingly integrated European market.
High-voltage links from the Highlands are being upgraded (remember the Beauly-Denny line controversy?), as is cross-border transmission. A very expensive sub-sea cable is being sunk between Ayrshire and Merseyside, and a marine cable off the east coast may follow.
This works in both directions, so when Scotland’s renewable generation isn’t generating, the grid in Scotland can draw on gas, coal, nuclear, solar and other renewable power generation from England and beyond.
Until that transmission capacity is in place, which will take another two years, the National Grid is concerned that it needs back-up capacity to ensure a reliable voltage.
And that’s why it asked thermal generators to make their bids as the most competitive option for that back-up.
Nuclear power was not included, as it lacks the flexibility to respond to unexpected drops in supply elsewhere.
So the bidders were coal-burning Longannet, gas-burning Peterhead, owned by SSE, and an innovative solution from a company called Tower Bridge Ventures, which wanted to moor gas-burning power turbines on barges.
Having lost, Longannet is fast running out of steam. Its owner, Scottish Power, had hoped to keep going to 2020 with reduced transmission charges to offset the rising costs of its emissions.
Ofgem, the energy regulator, was reviewing the cost to generators of pumping their power into the grid.
For many years, that has been heavily biased towards encouraging electricity generation near where it’s consumed, in cities, and mainly in English cities.
So if you generate power in London and along the English south coast, you get a subsidy from the grid. If you generate it in northern Scotland, you pay a hefty whack for the privilege (and if you’re a customer in northern Scotland, there are lower bills as partial compensation).
With policy pointing to much more renewable energy, which is most efficiently generated where the wind blows most strongly (that being northern Scotland), Ofgem’s Project TransmiT reviewed those charges and revised them – a bit.
But the revision doesn’t come close to making Longannet’s numbers add up. Its transmission costs next year fall from £40m to £34m, and then go up again the following year.
All this makes Longannet a hot political potato, and it’s being super-heated this close to a Westminster election.
Its owner, Scottish Power and parent company Iberdrola, are being criticised by Labour for not investing in emissions abatement technology.
Ofgem and the UK government are being criticised by the Scottish government for charges that discriminate against Scottish generators.
The Scottish government is being criticised for an energy policy that is too dependent on renewable energy.
And south of the border, things aren’t looking too good either. The ageing fleet of thermal and nuclear power stations are being closed down at quite a rate, and nothing like enough preparation has been done to replace them.
The political row is over Longannet’s failure to win the auction. But that eclipses the celebration for the other side of this story: Peterhead won!
The Aberdeenshire plant also faces very high transmission charges. But they can be offset by much lower emission costs from burning gas. Industry insiders reckon Peterhead is around 60% cleaner per unit of energy than dirty old king coal at Longannet.
The £15m capacity payment, added to payments for actually generating the back-up as necessary, gives it a financial lift at a time when gas-burning is uneconomic for all generators.
SSE has pulled back on Peterhead’s operational capacity for that reason. And last year, when it was in a different auction to provide back-up capacity, it failed Ofgem’s technical test.
But it is the last remaining hope for Scotland to get on with the much-vaunted carbon capture and storage (CCS). That happens to have been the great hope for Longannet as well, until Scottish Power gave up on the expense and delays.
Signals at red
This is an industry which is very heavily regulated. It responds to market and regulatory signals.
The signals, for now, are at red for old and new thermal capacity. Cockenzie in East Lothian could have gas turbines fitted where the coal-burners were recently shut down, but it makes no financial sense for now. Fracked gas could cut costs and make gas-burning economic, as it has in the US, but fracking is under a moratorium in Scotland.
The signals are at red for new nuclear power as well. Onshore wind is meeting opposition, offshore wind is failing to get its costs into a commercially viable condition, and wave power is becalmed by a lack of investment capital. At least tidal power is coming up the beach, though very slowly.
We could look to government to sort this out. But the election has thrown up a promise from Labour that it would put much tighter controls on household energy pricing. Not only has that pledge kept prices from falling, it also puts a chill on future investment in generating plant.
There are probably better ways of keeping the lights on.
“There is a powerful convergence of interests among key elites that support the climate ‘narrative.’ Environmentalists spread fear and raise donations; politicians appear to be saving the Earth from doom; the media has a field day with sensation and conflict; science institutions raise billions in grants, create whole new departments, and stoke a feeding frenzy of scary scenarios; business wants to look green, and get huge public subsidies for projects that would otherwise be economic losers, such as wind farms and solar arrays. Fourth, the Left sees climate change as a perfect means to redistribute wealth from industrial countries to the developing world and the UN bureaucracy.”
Save Loch Ness is a new organisation which is growing by the day. Click the link to view the web site and then click the link to sign the Petition to the Scottish Government!
This is not just important, it is essential! For years Loch Ness has been hidebound by Tourism Loch Ness which was controlled by Willie Cameron who has always been a supporter of wind farms. Despite serious concerns raised by others they have been over-ridden by him, aided and abetted by the SNP leadership of Highland Council. Now an independent body has struck out and needs to be supporter by us all, not only for Loch Ness side but for the areas North, South, East and West that rely on Tourism.
Loch Ness and it’s events, Baxter’s Loch Ness Run, Rockness etc, may always attract event tourism but that brings little real wealth to the area. Here today gone tomorrow. And as Rockness has shown it is a fragile draw. It is those that come and stay in the area, walk and climb the ridges above the Loch and frequent the eateries, pubs and hotels that are the life blood of Loch Ness. It is those wild life tourists, the photographers, the walkers and climbers that come back year on year. Now let us stand up for them!
Pretty damn scary and more so when you realise none of the on farm turbines, which in some area have grown like the Pox, are included. This is actually public knowledge available at https://gateway.snh.gov.uk/natural-spaces/ so why are the Government so reluctant to admit that their Policy of a turbine on every hill is close to fulfilment! You may however note that Braes of Doune, Bein Thuirsann, Novar, Nover Extension and Fairburn are also missing. Caithness seems oddly devoid of wind turbines as does Aberdoomshire.
Alex Salmond, in 2007, declared that Scotland could produce all electricity from renewable energy. Picture: Ian Rutherford
THE answer to Britain’s power supply is beneath our feet, writes Stuart Young.
There has been much discussion recently about the unintended consequences of certain decisions, actions, or lack of action, regarding UK energy policy.
Last autumn extensive media attention was devoted to the possibility of power cuts. That prompted me to look at the sequence of events leading to a once great nation not having a reliable electricity generation and distribution system.
I found a number of unexpected and perhaps unpredictable consequences, but I also found a number of unexpected and unpredictable decisions, the consequences of which were entirely predictable.
In 1989-90, Margaret Thatcher privatised the electricity generation and distribution industry. Predictably, the operators’ focus changed from powering the nation economically to powering the nation profitably.
In the following years, global warming became a hot topic and in 1997 Tony Blair signed the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases.
In 2001 when the EU’s large combustion plant directive signed the death warrant for a number of older high polluting plants, we had no coherent plan for the replacement of this generation capacity. Progress toward meeting our Kyoto commitment was stagnating so in 2002 Mr Blair introduced the renewables obligation.
This carrot and stick device unpredictably handed over the responsibility for meeting Kyoto commitments to the electricity generators, along with a huge financial incentive which predictably led to the industry taking the least expensive and most profitable way of meeting the obligation by wholesale development of onshore wind.
The first completely unpredictable, technically unsupported, game changing bizarre decision came in 2003 when Ross Finnie declared that Scotland could meet twice its allocated burden of carbon reduction. The result was greater pressure on Scotland to produce more electricity from wind.
The period from 2002 to 2007 was a sort of “false peace”, during which the imperative to reduce carbon emissions essentially translated into an imperative to generate by renewables.
The second bizarre decision came in 2007 when Mr Blair went to Europe to agree a target of 20 per cent of EU electricity consumption from renewables but returned having persuaded his EU colleagues to agree a target of 20 per cent of total energy from renewables. The action was unpredictable but the consequence – a more than doubling of electricity generation by wind – was entirely predictable.
In 2007 Alex Salmond “out-Finnied” Mr Finnie by declaring that Scotland could produce all its electricity needs from renewables. Predictably, Scotland became open season for predatory windfarm developers.
The Climate Change Act of 2008 committed us to a huge 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases. Only six MPs voted against it; the other 640 or so supported it without asking how it was to be achieved. Who could have predicted such a lack of scrutiny? The predictable result was an even greater rush for wind.
Some things which followed the Climate Change Act could not have been foreseen. For example, feed-in tariffs reward people for generating electricity using small-scale renewables and penalising their neighbours by making them pay for the extra cost of generation. Scottish planning policy removed the right to the enjoyment of one’s home from windfarm development in the pursuit of Mr Salmond’s 100 per cent vision.
Next, “connect and manage” was introduced following wind industry pressure to reduce waiting time for grid connections, allowing windfarms to connect to the grid when the windfarms were ready, whether or not the grid was. Before privatisation, this would have been unthinkable.
The subsequent compensation costs for unavailability of grid capacity were entirely predictable – and predictably underestimated. The UK electricity industry became supply-led with the Energy Act of 2013. The existence of remote generating stations now dictates the requirement for transmission, not the need for electricity.
Possibly the second most bizarre outcome is that recently National Grid has recruited a large bank of commercial diesel generators as short term operating reserve. Nobody could have predicted the burning of oil to support going green.
Government is not open. For instance the SNH August 2014 Wind Farm Map is yet to be published because it will show the vast extent of windfarm development in Scotland, unpredictable and unimaginable ten years ago, which will be bad for SNP prospects in the election.
I was motivated to write this piece by what is possibly the most bizarre decision in the process so far: in spite of having the solution to our energy crisis and carbon reduction target literally under our feet, Fergus Ewing has called a moratorium on fracking for shale gas.
The only similar sequence of bizarre-solutions-leading-to-unintended-problems-requiring-even-more-bizarre-solutions that I can think of began when an old lady swallowed a fly. She’s dead of course… and so is UK and Scotland energy policy.
Well this is an aspirational story but one that, had we not spent billions on useless wind farms, we may well have lead rather than, as painfully factual, been in the rearguard. In this case, not even on the starting blocks. Read the story here!
The plan is to build a 300MW reactor by 2016, which should have a runtime life of 100 years. India’s Thorium Energy Program, which is behind the system, aims to expand from the prototype so that 30 per cent of India’s energy comes from Thorium reactors by 2050.
That is a small reactor capable of the capacity of 100 large wind turbines of 3MW but deliverable 24/7/365 with a lifetime of 100 years, four times the planned(possibly ambitious) life of a wind turbine.
I looked at this and thought how those comments could as well be attached to all those rural dwellers in the Highland of Scotland. We too are an endangered species to be sacrificed at the alter to the Gods of Climate Change. As the ex Chairman of the IPCC Pauchori stated in his resignation letter, caused by his lack of respect for another co-worker, “Climate Change is my Religion”. And yet we are told these measures are to protect our ecology and environment. From whom I hear you say. Because Climate has been here for thousands of years and 5000 years ago we know it was considerably warmer with fields and settlements at much higher altitudes than we could survive now.
I looked at the new Highland Council Wind Farm maps and wondered which muppet had drawn them. Approved, but not yet constructed, wind farms had mysteriously disappeared as had those in planning and scoping. It was a sanitised wind farm map that might well have been drawn by Scottish Renewables spin machine. Then to add insult to injury the Highland Spatial Framework Map appeared and effectively the whole of the Highlands reaction was “WE’RE SCREWED!” Almost every nook and hollow, every pimple and molehill was categorised as Areas with Potential for Wind Farm Development. You really must hate the Highlands to produce that or be totally ignorant. Now the Highland Council has outsourced their web site to a company in Leicester down in the East Midlands of England (despite a mass of capable and experienced web companies in Inverness and the Highlands) and to say it is not the best website around would be the understatement of the year! Could it be that these maps were drawn in the upstairs office on an industrial estate in England? They certainly would seem to have been created by someone with no knowledge or understanding of the area. Now staggering under the sucker punch of two misleading maps I decided to see how they compared with the Wild Lands Map. Well whoever drew the Spatial Framework Map had never considered the conflicts with that map. Now there are tests in the offing on Wild Land, non less so than the appeal for Carn Gorm on the western flanks of Ben Wyvis. Wild Land is not a statutory designation but more a wish list. We see how easily it was redrawn to allow Stronelairg to proceed. Launched with a fanfare of bagpipes(?) by the Scottish Ministers last year it has yet to be fully tested.
The ‘problems’ with Longannet have polarised views in the hierachy of the SNP with the First Minister now announcing open season for the wind weasels. That Longannet is owned by the subsidy junky Iberdrola masquerading as “Scottish Power” it is not surprising that this was a high risk poker game about Longannet receiving the same subsidy stream that Whitelees enjoys. Pay if you do and pay if you don’t (generate power). There are issues for fossil fuel generation in that technology is designed to run 24/7/365 and preferential rules for wind results in under use of capacity which quickly can turn to heavy losses. It is now an eschewed market. That the Scottish Government and Ofgem are such poor poker players has much to do with the fact that Iberdrola was dealt all the Aces! The result though has been that the First Minister has bowed before the Wind Industry and given them the Green Light. Virtually everything is back on the table! The result is an aggressive launch of appeals in the sure knowledge that they will be approved as well as the need to tag on to the ROCs payment before the more competitive CfD system kicks in. The Gravy Train may soon be leaving and they all want their seats first!
Now back to the maps. Well I thought to create my own but I have been diverted to other issues of late and Alan Sloman has produced a set far better than I could ever hope to do. So I shall refer you all to his Blog and his assessment of the true state of affairs. Click here for the Truth Over to you Alan!
Murdo Fraser, Convenor of the Enterprise, Energy and Tourism Committee and a rather isolation voice of reason on that Committee has written a piece about Scotland’s energy future. Please read as it is a breath of fresh air in the corridors of Holyrood. Click on the link.
"The trouble with wind farms is that they have a very large spatial footprint for a piddling little bit of electricity. You would need 8oo turbines to produce the output of a coal-fired power station."
Sir Martin Holgate, Chief Scientist at the Department of the Environment of the British Government - October 2004