Robert Trythall is a core member of the No Tiree Array campaign, fighting to see off the formally titled Argyll Array- an offshore wind farm so brutalist in scale and proximity that even the most unquestioning aficionado of wind turbines would have pause.
He was asked to write on the subject for Think Scotland and his piece is now published: Scotland’s Basking Sharks threatened by 300 enormous turbines.
The title points to his major focus – the impact of Scottish Power Renewables’ proposal on the marine and bird wildlife in this Atlantic area.
An extract from the article summarises the overall position with this planned array and the developer’s decision to delay the progress of its submission until – wait for it – after 2014.
Does that date ring any bells?
Robert Trythall’s piece says:
‘If consented it would be the biggest offshore wind farm in the UK, one of the biggest in Europe, comprising up to 300 turbines the size of the London Gherkin, the closest only three miles off Tiree, in an area more than 3.5 times the size of the island, generating 1800 MW by 2020.
‘In March 2012, SPR announced delaying its consenting submission until late 2014. Possibly, and coincidently, till after the independence referendum. The cumulative effect is the array cannot be fully operational until 2022, and beyond the Scottish Government’s unilateral 2020 renewables target. The reasons for delay were specific ‘environmental considerations’, notwithstanding SPR highlighted them at the outset in 2010.
‘There is a raft of technical, financial, and possibly political reasons for SPR’s delay .’
For Argyll had been quite an enthusiastic – but discriminating – supporter of wind until we examined the proposal for the farm around Tiree. Its sheer preposterousness stopped the breath.
The number of turbines proposed; their height; their closeness to the island; their utter swamping of the Skerryvore Lighthouse, judged the most beautiful in the world one of Britain’s ‘pyramids’ built by the fabulous Stevensons; the scale of the farm compared to the island itself; the micro-climate it may bring – rain to the sunshine isle; the potential impact of the turbines on marine wildlife, birdlife, night time rest for islanders and potentially their health.
Common sense alons said ‘No’. This array is indefensibly out of scale, a life changer, an environmental intervention whose consequences we cannot guess at.
This scheme, with the equally abusive, if smaller, one planned for the shores of south Kintyre, drove us to research, question and reflect in a way we might not have felt the need to do had they the developers been less greedy or more competent in testing honestly the validity of their proposal before proceeding to planning.
This direction we were then propelled towards uncovered facts and arguments clearly needing to be recognised as weighty and to be explored further.
The Kintyre Offshore Wind Action Group [who comprehensively won their case, with the proposal withdrawn] and the No Tiree Array campaigns have been admirable in their serious approach to science, their interrogation of arguments advanced by government and developers and the extent to which they have shown these to be wanting.
They need to be listened to with respect – and, of course, interrogated with the rigour they rightly apply to the wind-at-all-costs brigade.
Note: The FAQ page on the No Tiree Array website is useful.