Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Southwest 5

That about sums up our average wind forecast. It doesn't mention the once a week gales (don't you just love the way you can make statistics look so bonny). It is one of the reasons why the Western Isles was earmarked as a prime site for a windfarm. Or three.

Following my previous post, I think I'd better summarise the reasons for my opposition to the turbines, of which 300 are planned to be dotted across the island of Lewis.

1. Oil and gas are finite sources of energy, and alternatives will have to be found within a matter of years or decades. Nuclear energy is something I'm opposed to, so long as a safe method of disposing of the waste is not found. Sandside Beach at Dounreay, nor Fuday nor Sandray count as safe.

2. The wind blows free for all, and I'm not opposed to windpower persé. However, the question of energy provision should be answered using all sources of renewable or non-carbon based energy.

3. A wavepower plant was commissioned off Eday, Orkney Isles, the other day. A tidal power generator has been providing Islay with electricity for about 15 years now. Another tidal generator is being built at Shader, Barvas (Lewis). Wave and tidal generators on a small scale are unobtrusive. The barrage that was mooted for the Severn estuary has an enormous environmental impact. Street- lights at Cromor and Ranais in Lewis are powered by solar energy. The panels aren't much to look at, but they're only small.

4. Large windpower developments across the UK come in for strong local opposition, because of the impact on the view - and yes, you can make a living off the view, it's called tourism - and the quality of life. Windturbines are NOT silent. Their presence can also put off prospective homebuyers, making properties unsellable.

5. The three Lewis windfarms, in Eisgein, Pairc and North Lewis, will have a major environmental impact. Wildlife, disturbance of the peatlayer (up to 20 feet thick in places), and destruction of one of the last wildernesses in the UK, which people come specifically to visit. The compensation offered to local communities is derisory. When hundreds of millions if not billions of pounds are being made, I think £5 million a year for the North Lewis windfarm is an insult, like offering the natives beads and mirrors.

6. The promises of employment, arising from the construction of the windfarm and associated infrastructure, are overstated. The Arnish Fabrication Yard has shown to be fickle in its economic stability, and that's where all the turbines are to be manufactured? 400 jobs for the construction phase, and 25 for the maintenance phase. I strongly doubt whether Lewisians in exile will come flocking back to take that up.

In brief, the question of our energy provision needs to be addressed in a wider perspective. It's never a good idea to put all your eggs in the one basket, marked windpower in this case.

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