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YOUR VIEWS: Standing up for our rural Highland environment

By Andrew Dixon

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Pylons in scenic locations can prompt objections.
Pylons in scenic locations can prompt objections.

Nick Sharpe of Scottish Renewables did himself no favours in a recent interview. He revealed in his corporate bamboozlement exactly where his loyalties lie, and it is certainly not with the environment and those committed to protecting it from the current tsunami of new industrial wind turbine applications or SSEN’s concrete and steel roadshow of horrific overhead pylon lines and substations to connect them.

He lamented the removal of the ludicrously high public subsidies in 2015 that actually gave beleaguered communities a short but welcome respite from firefighting the bombardment of wind turbine planning applications by multinational developers. Said developers slunk away once their cash cow had been taken to the abattoir and their proud announcements of only being in the industry to save the planet melted away with them.

Since then the new buzzwords like net-zero, Pathway 2030 and Holistic Network Design are served up for breakfast, dinner and tea with no explanation as to what it all exactly means.

How many more industrial wind turbines will make net-zero a reality?

How much more will be loaded onto our energy bills to make the powers that be and the wind industry happy?

How much more of Scotland’s rural environment will be sacrificed along with the lives of the folk who live in it?

How much more fuel poverty will Scottish Renewables think is okay under the pretence of addressing the climate emergency?

Will industrial wind turbines and their extreme infrastructure built with coal-produced Chinese steel and shipped to us in diesel ships actually change what the climate does?

There has been no evidence put forward to prove they will but the fathomless mentality of build, build, build and let’s build some more, with no route to market, has engulfed our policymakers, lobbied by one of the most wealthy and ruthless sectors in our country. The unashamed reasoning that the climate emergency needs thousands more wind turbines rings hollow when no proof has been forthcoming.

Nick Sharpe’s understanding of the planning process is woefully low. He believes everyone “has a voice”. They don’t. Ask communities up and down the country how they fought against wind developments, backed by their own community and local authority councillors, only to have local refusals overturned by the wind-washed ministers in Holyrood.

Spare us the £27 billion claim that renewables will “benefit” Scotland’s economy when a cursory look at our energy bills shows us that the green “contribution” we make has done nothing but multiply. Private industry spokespeople are way too fond of chucking figures about with no data offered to support them.

Mr Sharpe wants shorter planning times and no public inquiries. How very undemocratic of him!

If his members didn’t submit thousands of pages of applications for everyone, including laypeople and cash-strapped councillors, to have to wade through to discover how woefully inadequate they are that would speed things up for a start.

Public inquiries are essential and the only place developers can be cross-examined by independent experts. The Scottish Government should pay these costs as it is because of its shameless encouragement of these environment-busting developers this wind rush has ramped up again.

Communities should not have to fund their objections when these national-scale developments need public scrutiny.

Times are changing and people are waking up to the scale of devastation planned for rural Scotland. Despite Mr Sharpe’s claims that eight out of 10 people support onshore wind, he, his paying members and Scottish ministers are too feart to ballot the Scottish communities they target.

I suspect they know full well that any further industrialisation of Scotland by Big Energy for their shareholders will be met with a resounding “no thanks” by the brave and passionate Scottish citizens who battle to protect the environment.

Lyndsey Ward, Beauly, Spokeswoman for Communities B4 Power Companies

20mph is the safe choice across the area

I am extremely concerned regarding the sentiment in the comments published on September 22 [Your Views] from Karena Maclennan who suggests 20mph zones will cause “more accidents and road rage incidents”.

The statistics are absolutely clear. A pedestrian hit at 30mph has a one-in-five chance of being killed. At 20mph, a car driver has around three car lengths to stop if a child runs into the road, well within average reaction times.

Increase that car speed to 25mph and the same child is likely to be hit by a car travelling at 18mph [because it would not be able to stop in time] (stats from www.brake.org.uk).

To suggest road rage in the same breath as an accident is appalling. There is simply no excuse for road rage, especially not when targeted at more vulnerable road users such as people who cycle. 20mph is the safe choice for car drivers in towns and villages to keep us all safe.

Sara Ramsey, Inverness

Support for Academy Street revamp plans

This is ridiculous. There is overwhelming support for Academy Street proposals as evidenced by turnout at engagement events, and councillors reports of the ratio of support:objections in their [email] inbox. Yet not a single positive response has made it to your ‘letters’ page?

Matt, Inverness

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