Divisions open on wind farms as VisitScotland takes a stand

The Sunday Post recently concluded a very useful exercise someone needed to do and totted up the sums on wind farms. The results showed that:

  • 131 onshore wind farms are already installed in Scotland
  • 304 more are under construction, are already consented or are in the planning process

If those in the planning application stage are developed – and the Scottish Government has instructed planners to relax their scrutiny regime and progress [ie consent] applications more quickly – more than 5,000 turbines would stand across the country.

Days ago, the First Minister, fast becoming a serial fantasist,  chose to declare that wind farms ‘enhance our appeal as a country’ – as if we were the first and only country to have any, rather than being the first country majoring on spectacular landscape to go bald-headed for throwing turbines up wherever. Even the Great Glen and Loch Ness are facing this challenge.

VisitScotland, which has long done a painful splits on the fence, finally came off that position.

Having insisted that it did not oppose wind farm development in principle, VisitScotland even towed the line earlier this year to the extent of publishing the results of a survey showing that four out of five tourists visiting Scotland do not see wind farms as a problem.

Given that the majority of tourists go to Edinburgh, Loch Ness and Royal Deeside, this result was hardly surprising. They won’t have seen enough to replace hypothesis with reality.

However, a proposed development of 10-turbine at Minnygap near Lockerbie in Dumfries and Galloway has left the national tourism agency having to declare its opposition on the grounds that the wind farm ‘could have a detrimental effect’ on the area’s visitor offer.

This is an unusual move and one whose significance has been quickly identified by Murdo Fraser MSP, convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Energy and Tourism committee.

Mr Fraser says: ‘If wind farms will damage tourism in one area of Scotland, this is surely the case the country over.

‘This is a message communities reliant on the tourist trade have been trying to get through to the Scottish Government for years.’

Scotland’s tourism is worth £11 billion-a-year – not a sector to be put at risk as a major earner and one with real growth potential.

Dumfries and Galloway Council’s planning committee report says that the Minnygap development for which planning is sought: ‘appears to be visible from the Southern Upland Way which is an important part of the tourism offering in the area.

‘There have been a number of applications for wind farm developments along the route of the walk. Should all of these be granted there could be a cumulative detrimental effect on walkers.’

This reinforces the argument that Scotland’s greatest USP is its portfolio of wilderness areas on land and at sea; and that the invasion of these empty places by aggressively dominant engineering projects like wind farms destroys the adventure of the sense of exploration of the unknown.

The planning report on the Minnygap application will go to Dunfries and Galloway councillors this coming Thursday, 25th October.

The Sunday Post quotes representatives of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland as welcoming the VisitScotland objection as ‘ long overdue’ and calling for a moratorium on wind farm developments.

It quotes VisitScotland as saying that it supports the drive for renewables but: ‘When consulted as part of the formal planning process, VisitScotland recommends that tourism concerns are taken into account when granting planning permission and encourages sensitive siting of developments at all times.’

This belated protective intervention from VisitScotland is evidence of increasing concern of the scale of the rush for wind driven by the Scottish Government – at a point when countries installing wind farms earlier, as with Germany – are now taking them out as inefficient.

We have the chance to learn from the experience of others who are further down the road than we are. It is wilfully damaging not to do so.

A smart Scottish Government would already have been offering investment to Air Fuel Synthesis at Stockton on Tees and offering them serious incentives to develop their commercial implementation in Scotland.

They only need around £6 million for the demonstration plant to produce one ton of petrol a day by 2014 – a year of note to the government.

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60 Responses to Divisions open on wind farms as VisitScotland takes a stand

  1. The earlier foot in the mouth comment by Mr Salmond of “…Scotland becoming the Saudi Arabia of renewables…” is a poignant reminder of one mans perception, and not a democratic countries perception of what is acceptable.
    A vision of progress driven by one person, a vision based on commercial returns/political agendas and wrapped in a green cloak, a vision driven by a person with the power to implement vast change via mis-information, half truths and blinkered values is, when that person is incharge of a nations future dictatorial. and a worrying insight into our current leaders core values.. Alex is not listening because he feels “he knows better”… Alex you do not know better than the informed people of Scotland and organisations which are the true non-profit making, non-share holder portfolio carrying guardians of Scotland.
    Salmond would do well to place a moritorium on any and all future industrial wind development, and especially any planned development in regards to industrial windfarms in our wilder places…
    STOP now and take a step back, consolidate Scotlands Energy policy rather than implement a cobbled together ever changing mess.
    He may indeed feel he is gaining votes for his INDY race, but It is for certain that again his vision is self serving and blinkered, and that the mans current MO in regards to wind is infact loseing him votes..
    “Visit Scotland’s” original silence was understandable…a turbine here, a windfarm there, seemed aesthetically sustainable, to all…but now with the obvious strategic visual creep of these industrial sites throughout our wilder places is becoming ever more intrusive and therefore less sustainable (let alone environmentally damaging) the novelty has worn off.
    Rather than being a testement to the posibility of a cleaner more sustainable way of life…they are now a constant reminder of one mans ability to damage the environment for economic rather than environmental reasons.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. ” They only need £6 million “- and yet Scotland, under the SNP, is happy to pay over £400 million per annum at the moment as it’s share of the Wind Farm subsidy debt. And that figure is to be increased 3 / 4 times.

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    • That £6 million is for the next stage of proof of concept – small scale testing of commercial implementation – from whose results should come the information necessary to move to progressive full scale implementation – which would be major investment – but clean and cleaning.

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  3. Air Fuel Synthesis is never going to becomce a player in the energy stakes. As Dr. Mackenzie pointed out in an earlier thread it is aimed at producing clean fuel for F1 racing so that ludicrous ‘sport’ can clean up its image a little.

    One tonne of fuel? How far do you think a fully loaded 747 will get on that? Well, it’s 6 minutes during the cruise or enough for the takeoff roll and the first minute or so of climb. One tonne of fuel is going to make absolutely no difference to anything.

    If this process was ever to become commercial it would require vast quantities of essentially free electricity. How ironic that the only place this is likely to come from is an overcapacity of wind turbines when the wind blows hard :-)

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    • If this process was ever to become commercial it would require vast quantities of essentially free electricity. How ironic that the only place this is likely to come from is an overcapacity of wind turbines when the wind blows hard :-)

      So excess baseload from a nuclear powerstation during the hours of least consumption couldn’t possibly serve equally well?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • ‘Excess baseload’ is a contradiction in terms.

        You are talking about load-following nuclear power plants. This does happen in France, for obvious reasons, but at the moment even if we built all our planned new nuclear plants (which is looking unlikely) these would all be baseload plant rather than load-following plant.

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  4. As one wise head said yesterday ” Today proves windfarms are a political problem which the Government ignores at its peril. Every new wind farm costs the first minister, the SNP government and ultimately the independence campaign,support.

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    • That ‘wise head’ would be Linda Holt, CATS’s recently sacked press officer. It seems that all is not peace and tranquillity among the turbophobes. I believe the argument was – at least partly – about the involvement of Trump.

      So you believe the march of the turbines threatens a YES vote for independence? I am surprised that worries you – I did not have you down as an Indy supporter.

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  5. Pingback: Tourism Issues:- Visit Scotland comes out of the closet | No Tiree Array

  6. hey guys ..this page is about windfarms and their impact on tourism..so how do we get from that to air fuel synthesis??

    we have the foll to consider

    (1) earlier this year a poll found a possible 20% drop in tourist income could be expected in windfarm impacted tourist areas

    (2) A&B Council economic plan seeks 50 % increase in A&B tourist income by 2015

    (3) Alex Salmond claims that wind farms “enhance our appeal as a country”

    (4) Visit Scotland now objects to a windfarm on the grounds that it ” could have a detrimental effect” on holidaymakers.

    Rational thought and analysis support(1)and(4)but what
    will achieve(2)with(3)obviously requiring treatment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. Also in today’s ForArgyll is an article with the heading “Local Campaign Urging Householders to INSULATE and Improve WARMTH in their Homes”. Unfortunately, not one of the usual commentators for or against wind farms have submitted a comment to applaud this project Promoting similar projects is what is needed to reduce our ever growing energy needs but such promotion isn’t seen here. I am ashamed that not one of you has suggested projects to reduce energy dependence. Therefore, you have no choice but to accept your windmills, solar panels and nuclear and coal powerplants.

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    • I perceive the government insulation schemes, rightly or wrongly, as a sinecure for builders; why is it that the cost of getting insulation installed by approved installers(necessary for getting money from the scheme) is significantly greater than getting insulation installed by jobbing builders? Or that there is no means of getting a subsidy for DIY materials? Not everyone wants to ‘get a man in’ and in some cases the householder may make a better job of it.

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      • db, most of the big DIY chains have been selling loft insulation at heavily subsidised prices for a couple of years now – prices have gone up a little bit now I think, but the chance was there!

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    • You should read earlier posts in regards to energy saving there have been hundreds of them. We waste around 30% of what we generate all in the energy debate are aware of this…You might also want to check the last uptake of the SG’s energy saving initiative…
      “Therefore, you have no choice but to accept your windmills, solar panels and nuclear and coal powerplants”. only one of these is anywhere near green…what are you getting at, in this very odd sentence.
      Also note that many anti-wind campaigners support local community wind projects firstly because power and profit can go to the local communities and secondly because it reduces line loss…Get your facts in order prior to making such wobbly comments.

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        • I think that the one thing everyone here agrees on is the need for a greater emphasis on conservation (well, with the possible exception of Malcolm whose philosophy seems to be “burn baby burn”). The McKenzie household managed a better than 50% reduction in our electricity usage without any compromise in our living standards so imagine that replicated across the world.

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        • What I can !

          Just shut down 23 gas flares in 7 months in Zubair oil field, using water to pressure test instead of gas…thats about 18,000tonnes of CO2 a month, yes a month.

          As for home…double glazing is in. Stand-by is not used, buying air source heat pump next year..and using my bike instead of car around the village…as the old white goods fail I am fortunate enough to be able to afford AA rated replacements…my biggest footprint is my air travel…but there is nothing I can do about that, and using the 380 to manchester is better than the old airbus…

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  8. I heard my name mentioned ! Aahh its Napoleon showing off again – so no matter.
    1. Kyoto Commitment ends 31st December 2012 – RIP
    2. The earth has not warmed in 15 years.
    3. Wind turbine manufacturer’s shares at all time low
    4. Major Tradeshow ” Intersolar China ” has just been cancelled because of ‘ difficult market conditions.’
    5. Vettel won the India GP this morning – oooppps wrong Forum
    Have a nice day !

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. ‘The Earth has not warmed in 15 years’

    Garbage, Malcolm. The finest cherry-picked denialist garbage, based on a stupid article in the Daily Mail that was immediately rebutted by the Met Office.


    And the follow-up:

    The Mail on Sunday, David Rose and climate misinterpretation: Round two

    But my favourite demonstration of the fatuousness of the denial movement’s cherry picking nonsense is THIS ARTICLE AND ANIMATED GRAPHIC, which sums it up rather well.

    If the poor old turbophobes really can’t stand to see another wind turbine then I can understand their point of view and to an extent sympathise, though I find it irrational. When they try to justify their phobia with climate denial then I am afraid they have gone beyond rationality and into a dark place.

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  10. Have you noticed – well of course you have because they all do it from Salmond down – when asked a difficult question, they denigrate the questioner.

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    • They are indeed statements of fact but the story behind them is not what Malcolm is implying – the truth is much worse than that. The failure to properly implement Kyoto may be the epitaph on our species’ gravestone. Greed overcomes sense and we seem bound for hell in our collective handcart.

      The business problems of both wind and solar are nothing to do with a refutation of the values of renewables but are the inevitable consequence of the success of market forces which are driving the costs out of renewables. Installers of renewables are doing REALLY well as the manufacturers tear each other to bits over market share.

      Malcolm seems to have settled on Napoleon as my alter ego. However, he looks to me a striking resemblance to Nero, fiddling as Rome burns. How much hotter does it need to get, how much ice to melt, how many unprecedented storms and how many unnecessary deaths will it take before he says the simple line: “I was wrong; I’m sorry”.

      In the meantime, the rest of us will strive to make at least a little bit of difference.

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      • How much hotter does it need to get, how much ice to melt, how many unprecedented storms and how many unnecessary deaths will it take before he says the simple line: “I was wrong; I’m sorry”.

        Given how many of Scotland’s elderly and infirm will die this winter because of fuel poverty caused by raised energy prices that’s an unfortunate turn of phrase.

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  11. “…the truth is much worse than that…”
    Windfarm scandal in Denmark
    An article in the Danish press reveals a scandal that is shaking the government (1). The Minister of the Environment has been pretending all along that his country’s regulations about noise emitted by wind turbines are the most restrictive in the world. Yet this month he explained that 4 to 11% of neighbors would be annoyed by the characteristic pulsing sound from wind turbines, of which up to a thousand more will be imposed on the saturated Danish countryside.
    The European Platform Against Windfarms (EPAW) and the Waubra Foundation (Australia) denounce this disregard for human rights to health. Across the world, they warn, thousands of wind turbine neighbors can’t get enough sleep at night on account of noise and/or infrasound, and this includes many children. Inevitably, it leads to health problems, which are getting worse with length of exposure. “Has any country, in the European Union or anywhere, the right to sacrifice the health of part of its population? ” asks Mark Duchamp, Executive Director of EPAW.
    What is more, world-renowned Danish acoustician professor Henrik Moeller, from the prestigious Aarlborg University, has once again come out criticizing his government on the issue. He had already done so a year ago, when he denounced important irregularities in the establishment of norms concerning the low-frequency noise levels of wind turbines (2).
    This time around, he is accusing the Minister of the Environment of being shy of reality with his figures of 4 – 11%. According to the professor’s estimates, 22 to 42% of the neighbors will be significantly affected by wind turbines, day or night (1). The percentage is huge, and the scandal is becoming ever so more difficult to ignore, comments Mark Duchamp.
    “This disregard for the health of the Danish people will have far-reaching consequences”, opines Mauri Johansson, MD, MHH, Specialist in community and occupational medicine in Denmark, “because many countries copy our regulations when it comes to frequencies emitted by wind turbines. Governments around the world will continue to allow these machines much too close to habitations, and the number of people affected in their health will keep growing, not only with the length of exposure as years go by, but with the number of wind turbines installed, which continues to grow rapidly.”
    Dr Sarah Laurie, from Australia’s Waubra Foundation, notes this will be very costly to society as a whole. “Asbestos, tobacco, and now wind turbines: it’s the same process. Health authorities deny the problem, relying on mendacious studies commissioned by the industry; until one day at last the truth comes to light (it always does). In the meantime, considerable harm is being done, human rights are being violated, and the health of thousands is deteriorating, including children. Around the world, ailing neighbors are suing wind developers and hosts because of damage to their health. The problem can no longer be ignored, let alone denied. Independent full acoustic spectrum monitoring must be done (3).”
    (1) – Article, translated by the authors into English just recently:
    - Original article in Danish, of 9 oct. 2012 :
    (2) – Article from one year back, revealing important irregularities:
    (3) – Wind turbine acoustic pollution assessment requirements: http://waubrafoundation.com.au/Wind_Turbine_Acoustic_Pollution_Assessment_Requirements.pdf
    Mark Duchamp +34 693 643 736 (Spain) Skype: mark.duchamp
    Executive Director, EPAW
    Dr Sarah Laurie + 61 439 865 914 (Australia)
    CEO, Waubra Foundation

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  12. Good morning!
    BTW – the ice in Antartica is as thick as it’s ever been.
    Good News! – It must be true because it’s in the Guardian – the US of A has hugely cut its CO2 output by using fracking gas – read on. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/oct/29/coal-threatens-climate-change-targets
    SR – fancy a trip down to Glasgow tomorrow evening – they need a speaker. You’re just the man ! http://scef.org.uk/news/1-latest-news/352-this-meeting-believes-there-is-no-evidence-of-catastrophic-warming#.UI5XPwUHJic.facebook

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Malcolm: did you actually read that Guardian article and if so, how do you manage to interpret it as good news? As the article makes clear, the US has reduced its domestic CO2 production through burning more gas that has displaced coal but the displaced coal has just gone elsewhere to be burned and is actually increasing the amount of coal burned globally through making it cheaper. This is not good news.

      With regard to ice in the Antarctic, you don’t give a reference so I cannot comment directly but increased ice cover can be the consequence of global warming. Once you have recovered from your spluttering let me explain how: warmer sea water surface temperatures mean more water vapour in the atmosphere through evaporation. What goes up must come down and so this water falls as increased precipitation. When temperatures are low this precipitation falls as snow thus increasing the amount of ice.

      Unfortunately, we know very little about what is going on in the Southern Ocean (compared with northern latitudes) but, if you think about it, the only way you get increased amounts of ice is if you have increased precipitation. That increased precipitation could be because of simple changes to local weather patterns or it could be a response to rising global temperatures. Of course, at some point rising temperatures mean that the precipitation falls as rain rather than snow and that accelerates melting. Hopefully we will have come up with a solution before then since loss of the Antarctic ice sheet doesn’t really bear thinking about (though we are talking about a very long time to come unless global warming dramatically accelerates driven by methane gas release).

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  13. I said is was good news for the US of A – I didn’t say it was good news for everywhere else – BUT – it perfectly demonstrates the way to go to reduce CO2 rather than wasting billions on renewables. The quicker we get on with it the better.
    Incidentally could somebody explain how a slice up the the West Coast of Scotland including Mull and the Hebrides had the best and driest Summer for years and yet not far inland and indeed the whole of the rest of the UK ,had one of the wettest. I don’t understand how Global warming could have caused that local anomaly.

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      • There is a “proposition” from who…the BBC, Mail or Guardian ?, but please before you sow seeds of misinformation…also check out the other climate cycles…I leave it with you.

        You might find this interesting as the facts are not based on BBC or Guardian news reels. You may not know but regular variables such as El Nino and the 11 year Solar cycle do cause shifts in the jetstream…


        PS…world is due to implode on 21st Dec…

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        • Karl: I do enjoy your attempts to teach Granny to sook on avian ova but I did do quite a bit on the ocean-atmosphere interactions as an undergraduate so am on first name terms with not just El Nino but also his sister La Nina.

          The proposition comes from the Met Office and is based on their modelling of sea surface temperatures and sea ice cover (watch the link – it has nice graphics from the Met Office). However, the fact that I said “proposition” should have altered you to my scepticism that this was anything other than just variability in our weather rather than an indication of climate change. This needs a lot more work before the link is proven.

          It will be interesting to see what 2013 brings as we are predicted to move into a strong El Nino period which should raise temperatures, possibly to new records. However, if the Met Office’s hypothesis is correct and the combination of reduced sea ice and warmer surface temperatures in the Arctic were indirectly responsible for the lousy weather on both sides of the pond then this is bad news indeed as we can expect increasingly sever bouts of this sort of weather. No good for tourism but also, and infinitely more serious, very bad news for global food production.

          Let’s pray that it was just weather.

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  14. All of you can’t agree on anything which is similar to political parties vying for the LAST WORD which never happens. What a waste of time this is. In all your ramblings, you have achieved nothing !!!!

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    • Whereas you have achieved….. what Henri? Are you suggesting we just maintain a Trappist silence on every piece of Newsroom’s blog? That would be very boring.

      It is always important to debate the facts and their interpretation. As to party political standpoints, all of the major parties agree on the fact of human-induced climate change so what anyone’s political preferences have to do with it is beyond me.

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  15. How long are you going to debate this ? I’ll tell you that the wind turbines will be built and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it and the reasons for this are quite obvious, are they not ?????

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    • Well, Henri, there’s no such thing as never, and just recently a major wind farm project has fallen at the last post for the clearly unexpected reason that its noise footprint – combined with those of other windfarms proliferating in that area – risked confusing the seismic warning system at Eskdalemuir that monitors nuclear test ban treaty breaches.

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  16. It’s good to see that there’s a belated reaction to these windmills, even if too late.

    There are other issues which are beginning to be appreciated; one such is synchronous inertia. There’s an explanation of this here:


    Synchronous inertia helps smooth normal perturbations in the grid and gives a breathing space to allow additional capacity to be dispathched. Without that inertia, frequency excursions by the grid will be greater. When frequency changes from 50c/s or 50Hz so does the rotational speed of every synchronous motor; most will not be critical, most in medical, engineering even relatively simple applications such as radar aerial rotation will be seriously effected.

    The EU will shortly attempt their ludicrous solution which will be to change the legal excursion from +/-0.5 to 2.5Hz. A National Grid report here illustrates how sensitive the Grid is to frequency.


    The current wind farms have no inertia capability. The problem arises during periods of low demand when the UK consumes the power equivalent of 30GW. The UK output from offshore farms *alone* could be 28GW by 2020. You can not maintain a stable frequency without “inertia-laden” conventional capacity sufficient to meet normal grid perturbations.

    One answer would have been to instruct all wind farm developers to fit virtual inertia; a solution the Grid thought of last year
    We are just a little late in waking up to this.

    Our (NETA) system developed to promote the sale of electricity, not capacity. The GE report requires the turbine to be de-rated falsely, by 10% I believe, so that it can inject that additional power as inertia. I very much doubt that any wind farm owner is much bothered with inertia; in our compartmentalised electricity system this is the Grid’s problem.

    The second issue is CO2 saved. Repsol and EDP think they will save a tonne of CO2 per MWHr in the Moray Firth – prats. Most other claim a saving equivalent to the lowest conventional emission, CCGT, of 0.4 t/MWHr.

    Today was not a very good day for somebody; actual wind was 800MW at some point compared with 1.6GW forecast. The issue is simply what conventional capacity was used to fill that gap? If it was CCGT operating in OCGT mode at 0.6t/MWHr, then we have gained nothing. We might as well have shut the turbine down and run CCGT from the beginning.

    Carbon saving is supposed to be the name of the game?

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  17. Wow ! Serial denigration – I’m honoured that you pair should prove what I said above – when you are faced with a difficult question you just denigrate the questioner just like Salmond does.
    To anyone not familiar with where the £400 million comes from – and by the way it is now more than that – it is the amount that – should Scotland become independent – the 5 million of us would have to pay each year for the next 20 years to subsidise existing wind farms – and the SNP want to treble that debt.
    For all Napoleon spouts that the figure is wrong – it ain’t – and he has never proved otherwise.
    However we can easily end all these discussions by accepting the new American evidence that they have severely cut their C02 output and combined that with a massive reduction in gas prices – all thanks to fracking. So lets put an end to this ridiculous dream of trying to live off renewables as a source of electricity and put our efforts in to distributing cheap gas and thus help to reduce all our costs.
    Further good news: We could have new Nuclear power stations on line in 10 years time to further provide us with a reliable ( not cheap ) 24 hour x 365 day power supply :-
    Its all heading in the right direction !

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    • I think anyone who continues to use puerile nicknames for contributors they don’t agree with is on a sticky wicket when complaining of being “denigrated”.

      Fact is I(and others) have repeatedly shown that the £400M figure is nonsense today and would be a nonsense in the future as the FITS system is guaranteed to the power generators by the UK Government regardless of the constitutional future. You know this and your continued insistence on repeating this blatant attempt to deceive people does you no service.

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  18. What Salmond really means when he quotes ‘Investment figures’ is that foreign money spent on building wind farms in Scotland will receive a massive return on that investment to beat any other form of capital return anywhere – maybe in the whole world.
    But every poor soul in the UK who switches on a light or boils a kettle is paying for it.
    Anyone still following this will note that the SNP brigade have still not commented to any extent on developing gas from fracking ( thus greatly reducing our utilities bill) and the further good news that Nuclear Power Stations are in the offing, as is Carbon Capture.
    Stand by for personal denigration – they pray to their god Salmond – so what would you expect.

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    • Sorry to pop your little orgasmic bubble Malcolm but in fact we covered fracking some months back. Fracking is indeed making an impact in the USA but it is highly unlikely that it will have any impact in Europe (other than encouraging coal dumping from the USA). Even in the USA, fracking has only become viable because of the high oil price – if oil falls below $80 dollars a barrel then it becomes uneconomic. The geology and dense populations in Europe means that fracking is only likely in very limited areas.

      A switch between coal and gas does indeed have benefits in terms of carbon reduction but only if the coal that is displaced is not just burnt elsewhere. There is an argument that encouraging the use of gas over coal might be a more cost effective strategy than investment in wind (at least in the short term) in terms of carbon reduction but it doesn’t hold water when fuel security and the price of electrical generation is taken into account. All the evidence points to gas prices continuing to rise so that wind power becomes more cost effective than gas (the good thing about wind is that its fuel is inflation proof – and don’t confuse the subsidies given for capital investment with generating costs). So an investment in wind now should hedge our future electricity prices against large hikes in gas prices (HB has in the past disagreed with this analysis but I guess time will tell who is right). The UK currently imports 50% of its gas and the overall figure is worse for Europe as a whole. Over reliance on gas thus makes us very vulnerable.

      CCS is a technology that only really makes sense if you want to burn coal. It would, however, increase the cost of burning coal to the point where it would make more economic sense to deploy renewables.

      Funnily enough most of us on here have come to the same conclusion about nuclear: that it is a necessary evil and a legitimate part of the fuel mix. However, it is very expensive and the worry about nuclear waste has not gone away. A renewable/nuclear/gas mix is quite attractive in terms of grid balancing and a good balance between carbon reduction and fuel security. For that reason, I, like SR and Newsroom, have reluctantly and perhaps surprisingly, come to back the construction of new nuclear plants. Expecting them to be available in ten years from now is, however, highly naive. Expect a much longer time span for their commissioning.

      Lastly, your attempts to portray the First Minister as some sort of energy nut, embarking on a deluded crusade in the face of common sense is not just wrong but also a bit creepy. Scotland’s commitment to renewables dates from the previous Lib-Lab administration at Holyrood and ratified by, I think, a unanimous decision of the Parliament. This policy also reflects the position of the UK Parliament (and pretty much every sensible and responsible government worldwide). The only thing Mr Salmond has done is extend the targets upwards. As I have said before, he can do this because Scotland is easily capable of meeting these targets but Mr Salmond is no Green Messiah. The SG remains committed to coal production and burning in Scotland (something I personally oppose) as well as North Sea oil production.

      Genuinely cheery news is that the UK is leading the EU in terms of carbon reduction (a proud accolade only slightly dented by the fact that this was down to a mild year and the depression of economic activity because of the recession.

      We face many challenges in the years ahead. Thankfully, most of our politicians ( regardless of party) recognise the seriousness of our position and are prepared to act.

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