Posts tagged ‘Windfarms’

February 13, 2013

Dalnessie

by backpackingbongos

In october 2011 I had the privilege of backpacking in a vast open area called the Ben Armine Forest.  This is situated just south of the Munro Ben Klibreck.  From the summit of the 705 metre Ben Armine the view revealed just how huge the surrounding landscape is.  In some respects it was rather overwhelming, hard for my brain to comprehend that there are such empty places in the UK.  Man made intrusions into the landscape were non-existent.  It really is not a place to visit if you suffer from agoraphobia.  The fact that it is one of those rare hills that is difficult to visit on a day walk added to the true sense of remoteness.  Below is a photo of Pete descending towards an estate bothy with expansive views to the south west.

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I have to say that I had a total feeling of disbelief when I discovered that SSE had submitted plans to build 27 huge wind turbines in the middle of it all.  It really did beggar belief.  The view above would become dominated by giant turbines and miles of access roads.

Walking out on the third day of the backpack we crossed the Bealach Easach with its absolutely beautiful view down the length of Loch Choire.  A splendidly uplifting moment in the autumn sunshine.  The boundary of the wind farm is two kilometres from this spot.

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Situated on high moorland the turbines will be visible for miles around in this open landscape.  It’s a bit of a fecking joke that SSE are the sponsors of the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards.

Anyway, there is a glimmer of good news in that the Highland Council has just rejected the application.  Why just a glimmer of good news?  Because of the size of the development the final decision will now be made by the Scottish Government.  They happen to have a bit of track record in these matters…………

Dalnessie

* Just to make it clear that I am not anti wind energy.  I believe that in the right places wind can contribute to the energy mix.  However I do fear that there is far too much emphasis in on shore wind to meet renewable targets.  This means that the wildest and most valuable parts of the UK landscape are being trashed by greedy developers trying to cash in on subsidies paid by me and you.  An example of wind energy working well is on the island of Eigg.  Small scale and to benefit the local community.

November 18, 2011

Stop The Exploitation of Mynydd Mynyllod

by backpackingbongos

I have to admit that until earlier this week I had absolutely no idea where Mynydd Mynyllod was.  However as a backpacker who often goes to Snowdonia it is an area I have passed many times without realising.  I would also assume that most people reading this have probably passed it on the way to the mountains.  The river Dee flows through a lovely valley and I always enjoy the drive west from Llangollen before continuing into south Snowdonia via the A494 to Bala, or occasionally on the B road via Llandrillo.  I much prefer exploring the south of the national park with its isolated mountain ranges or the empty Berwyns to the east.  A quiet unspoilt corner of Wales.

For how much longer?

There are proposals to plonk 25 turbines which are 145 metres high on a wedge of moorland called Mynydd Mynyllod.  Unfortunately developers are unable to simply ‘plonk’ turbines as first they need to rip up miles of moorland for access tracks and fill the hills with toxic concrete.  I could not find a decent map of the proposed site, so I have mocked up my own.  I have crudely marked the area proposed for development with an X.

Although not actually located within the National Park, it is pretty damned close and the turbines would be visible and intrusive from a huge area.  Rather than re-write what has already been written there is a website called Stop The Exploitation of Mynydd Mynyllod, please have a look for more information and how to object.

Last nights Question time was filmed in Aberystwyth and there was a question about windfarms.  You can view the programme by clicking here.  The question is around the 42 minute 40 second mark.  According to the BBC website it should be available until 16th November 2012.

March 9, 2011

Hyddgen – desecrating the sacred?

by backpackingbongos

Leaving the lovely hippy town of Machynelleth on foot you cross low rolling hills before being confronted by a wonderful natural spectacle.  The cliffs of Creigiau Bwlch Hyddgen sweep down to a great scoop out of the hillside, a waterfall cascading from its head.  Unfortunately the hand of man has already ruined this landscape with a broad swathe of regimented conifers.  However continue south for a couple of miles and the landscape become wilder, a scene to lift the spirits and calm the soul.  Just below the northern slopes of Plynlimon / Pumlumon Fawr the Hyddgen meets the Hengwm.  This is one of the wildest and loneliest corners of Wales.  A land of mountain rivers tumbling down craggy slopes, roadless and barely touched by the hand of man.  A bridleway runs the length of the Hengwm valley but it barely exists on the ground.  Wildness of this quality is hard to come by outside of the Scottish highlands.  This special quality can only be hinted at by this map and some old digital photographs I have taken.

I was therefore dismayed to read that this area may very well be the site of 64 wind turbines up to 146 metres high.  I have lifted the following directly from the Cambrian Mountains society website.

Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) is proposing to build a wind power station of 64 turbines up to 481ft high – much larger than any yet built in the UK – on the foothills of Pumlumon overlooking the Nant y Moch reservoir. The turbine tower sections, blades and generators would be imported via Swansea and brought in ‘abnormal load’ convoys via Cardigan and Penparcau using a new entrance at the Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre.

The huge site, in both Ceredigion and Powys, extends to 9 x 5 miles, straddling the Scenic Route from Ponterwyd to Tal y Bont and overlooking Hyddgen, the site of Owain Glyndŵr’s famous victory over English soldiers and Flemish mercenaries in 1401. The area is in the heart of the Cambrian Mountains, once nominated as a National Park, and is rated as ‘Outstanding’ in the Countryside Council for Wales’ LANDMAP system. The beauty of the hills, lakes and forests in this area steeped in Welsh history is undisputed. Despite its inclusion by the Assembly Government as within a ‘Strategic Search Area’ (SSA) for windfarms, there cannot be a site that deserves more protection and a proposal that requires more opposition.

I find this news incomprehensible.  The recent go ahead for the wind farm at Drumglass in the Monadhliath made me angry, however for this my feelings go much deeper.  It is a feeling that is hard to articulate in words but is definitely a feeling of loss and sadness, a knot in my stomach making me feel sick.

I first came this way over a decade ago on a long backpack between the North coast of Snowdonia and the Gower.  It was early April and Rae and I pitched our very cheap tents next to Llynn Llygad Rheiddol.  During the evening we watched a solid wall of white progress towards us along the Hyddgen, finally engulfing us in a blizzard.  Having cheap ridge tents without porches meant we could not cook that night and we lay awake pushing the snow of fly sheets.  Morning brought an alpine scene of deep snow and blue skies.  We crossed Pumlumon and the busy A44 and climbed towards the bothy at Cefn Croes.  Sadly Cefn Croes has now fell to the turbine god, white whirring beasts stealing the views, monstrous tracks scarring the hillsides.  I backpacked there a couple of years ago walking to the bothy under the cover of darkness.  I can remember standing outside with a mug of coffee in my hand, no moon or stars, the dark absolute.  There was a strange whirring noise close by, whoosh whoosh whoosh.  Morning light against a backdrop of cloud and rain revealed the giant whirring blades.  Is this what lays in store for what I consider the best wild land south of the border?  A short video I shot of a rather bleak industrial scene.

Last weekend Jim Perrin led a protest of more than 250 people to the proposed site, I wish that I had know about it as I would have gone.  There is an article in Grough here and an article from the Guardian here.

Soon will it only be our crowded National Parks that are left free from development on an industrial scale?