Kintyre sunset with geese
Kathryn lives on the beautiful Atlantic seaboard of Kintyre. To the west, over the Sound of Gigha, are the isles of Gigha, Islay and Jura. In winter the area is home to a protected species of migratory geese, the Greenland Whitefronts.
Kathryn writes: There was a proposal to build a wind farm at Largie on the coastal hills, beween the protected feeding grounds of the geese on the coast and their protected roosting lochs in the hills. The site would have been close to houses, and to tourist and ferry routes. The seven giant turbines [each 110 metres high] would have dominated the gentle, low-lying hills along this spectacular coast. Previous wind farm developments had, appropriately, been restricted to the hills on the central spine of Kintyre, but this development, land-owner and developer-driven, would have set a precedent for the industrialisation of the scenic west coast.
A campaign initiated by www.ArgyllWindfarms.com ( www.StopLargieWindFarm.com ) to stop the wind farm going ahead mustered 1000 signatures from all over the world, but a local petition in support of the wind farm also mustered 1000 signatures. Local people signed the petition in the belief that the wind farm would bring jobs [construction] and prosperity [handouts from the wind farm developers] to the local area, at a time when a local wind turbine factory, Vestas Celtic, was under threat of closure. The local councillors, who are totally committed to the 'development' of this unspoiled rural peninsula, were forced to refuse the application, on 7 March 2007, only because they would be breaking the law if they passed it. [It is illegal to threaten the integrity of a site protected by European Law]. Our beautiful, unspoiled coastline was only saved by the geese.
The councillors voted unanimously to reject 'visual considerations' and made it known that they were not happy about 'being dictated to by Brussels', that this was 'the end of democracy and local decision-making' and that if it had been up to them, they would have passed it unanimously. Their decision to ignore landscape considerations and the advice of their own planners and Scottish Natural Heritage leaves an 'open door' for future wind farm applications in the area. Even at this stage, the Largie developer has the right to appeal to the Scottish Executive, and in the frenzied Rush for Renewables, who knows if the Members of the Scottish Parliament will uphold the councillors' [reluctant] refusal. We may well have won the battle, but I fear that we have lost the war.
We desperately need a Government which will not subsidise wind farm development to the exclusion of other forms of renewable energy. We need a Government which will support windfarm development only in appropriate sites and will insist that local planning committees take account of Local Development Plans and Policies and National Guideliness on Wind Farm Development, and also take the advice from the government's advisors on landscape and wildlife issues, Scottish Natural Heritage.