Is it right that wind farm objectors have to fight wind farms without any financial support against multi million pound investments, professional PR Companies and well paid staff from the developers? Obviously not, but it goes deeper. We rely on fighting the larger wind farms with support from such as SNH, RSPB, John Muir Trust and other interest groups. Yes, I know the first two names are a bit of a sick joke. However if it is such as RSPB or a regional Red Kite group, they are faced with a whole barrage of applications and limited resources. A full ES bird survey should take about two years and many man hours of research. Other surveys may be shorter but still takes resources. Access and boots on the ground may both be a problem. But essentially we are fighting with one hand, or in many cases both, tied behind our backs. Even when these groups dedicate the resources and finance, as in Stronelairg, if the local Council does not raise an objection the case does not go to a Public Local Enquiry and is left with the Minister to decide. Councils are as pushed for finance as anyone nowadays and some unacceptable choices have had to be made. Whether they were right at the time remains to be seen but the legacy will live on. There are no winners on the local residents side. How can we change the system to be fairer?
I was talking to a friend today, who is very involved with Raptors, about objecting to wind farms. In this case Strathy South and Beinn Mhor. What he says is that they are inundated by consultants for wind farms demanding information Free Of Charge. All the information they want is slanted towards supporting wind. His group would like to object to far more applications but they don’t have the resources and to provide a professional review takes time and costs money. However even he has bought into the concept that wind farms are renewable energy. Only renewable they do is renew the money in the developer and landowners bank balance. Therefore their objections, whilst factual, are not particularly robust. You have seen the comments. “We support renewable energy but……. ” To save face they will then accept mitigation of removing three turbines which had probably already been identified by the turbine designers as inappropriately sited for the monitored wind flows. In all fairness to him he is very anti wind farms and horrified by the desecration to the wild areas. It is just that those knowledgeable need to be a lot more forceful,The debate has totally corrupted common sense and technical, critical assessment.
What we are aware of is that Energy Consents, now that is a name which tells a story, is entering into a consultation as to it’s position and efficacy. They point out that no staff with responsibility for current applications will be present and it will be a full and free discussion. Full and free with energy consents may be a prerogative term as it would be with the Climate Bunnies at the DECC. Maybe it will be full and free, but will they listen? Now if this is driven by Murdo Fraser MSP, convenor of the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee, a new dawn may in fact be on the horizon.