Patron of Northern Lighthouse Board incredulous at Tiree Array proposal

[Update note below 14 May] The patron of the Northern Lighthouse Board has made clear her incredulity at the grossness of the proposal to site hundreds of wind turbines in the close vicinity of the celebrated and Grade A listed Skerryvore Lighthouse, south of the Isle of Tiree.

The patron of the Northern Lighthouse Board is Princess Anne, whose affection for Scotland embraces the Scottish rugby team, the sailing grounds of the west coast, including Tiree and its sister Isle of Coll – she keeps her yacht in Argyll – and the incomparable Stevenson lighthouses.

The Princess has an ambition to visit every one of these lighthouses in person and is well on her way to achieving that target.

As patron of the Northern Lighthouse Board, she is entitled to express her horror at the impact on the Skerryvore, recognised as the most beautiful lighthouse in the world of ScottishPower Renewables’ proposal for a gigantic offshore wind farm around much of Tiree.

The No Tiree Array campaign was quickly on the record as being very appreciative of this very public support from a notable and competent interest for its informed opposition to the proposed wind farm.

The Princess’s typically directly expressed view is that, with the Skerryvore Light a Grade A listed building, ‘You’d never get away with that onshore.’

Robert Trythall, secretary for the No Tiree Array campaign, is quoted as saying that the Princess ‘…is standing up for Scotland. Skerryvore is one of the most stunning engineering and architectural feats of the 19th century and ti have it casually obliterated by these wind turbines would be unforgivable’.

Indeed it would.

SPR repeated their intention to submit a planning application at the recently postponed date of 2015. This just happens neatly to take a Scottish Government decision on this application away from any negative impact the consent it clearly wishes to give might have on the 2014 Independence Referendum.

Nobody is fooled.

Update Note 14 May: Princess Anne’s comments above are in general circulation but originated in an interview with the Princess in this month’s [June] Scottish Field. In the interview she is talking about Scotland’s wild places which of course, include Argyll [and the Skerryvore - for the time being anyway].

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37 Responses to Patron of Northern Lighthouse Board incredulous at Tiree Array proposal

  1. In addition to the beauty…. I can’t imagine what kind of wind turbine could withstand, for any meaningful length of time,the seas that manage to crash even over the top of Skerryvore light house.

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  2. How is building near something obliterating it? Has St. Paul’s Cathedral been obliterated because other tall buildings have been built nearby?

    It’s just NIMBYism with a tiara. Plus newsroom’s regular instalment of SNP bashing.

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    • Poor example to choose; Ken Livingston’s penchant for giving permission to developers to build hideous phallic symbols has spoilt the view of St. Pauls from several directions. The built environment must be considered when considering planning applications.

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    • Arethosemyfeet presumably isn’t aware that the protection of the setting of St Paul’s cathedral from monster intrusions has been ongoing for many a long day, and the attempts to plonk lumpen buildings in the way of it show little sign of diminishing. Perhaps Arethosemyfeet is just winding us up – or is simply a rather dim philistine.

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      • I’m pretty sure St. Pauls is exactly where it has been since Wren built the place. You can’t see it as clearly from elsewhere in London as you once did, but that is not the same as it being obliterated.

        Plenty of listed buildings were once isolated and subsequently built around.

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    • Has St Paul’s been obliterated by being surrounded by other tall buildings? – well, yes, actually. Comprehensively in fact.

      St Paul’s dominated the London skyline for 250 years and then the planners lost the plot.

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  3. Holiday Holmes and Yacht Brigade win day, even more Scots in fuel poverty, get a grip where is the balance here?

    How do you square this with St Peter at the Pearly Gates. Stopped another wind development which can be seen from my Yacht when sailing, but another 100 people copped it in a landslide due to climate change but I was not directly responsible for that, so its Ok Peter eh!

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    • Oh, my sides are splitting! :D Whatever wind farms are doing, they certainly will never lift any of us out of fuel poverty unless we are lucky enough to own a share of them.

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    • Fuel poverty! Goodness, you truly have swallowed the message, hook, line and sinker, JP!

      Offshore wind power is, in pence per kWh, by far the most expensive electricity of all.

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  4. The yacht by the way was purchased from all those years in industry working her fingers to the bone so she could enjoy the fruits of her hard labour and enterprise in retirement and I fully support her right to enjoy her retirement years Yachting.

    Scratch that she has not worked her fingers to the bone, she rides horses and is chauffeured around the country squeezing palm on the large amounts of taxpayers money. Yep very qualified to comment on wind development as hot wind comes out of her mouth in abundance. This support is a shot in the foot I think. Argyll is not a retirement village for rich loafers and the anti Scots sentiment is not overly welcome either.

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  5. DB stop your laughing its impolite and rude to laugh at the plight of others and yes more and more communities are owing a share of their local windfarm developments, our own community at Inveraray receives funds from two such developments and we have put the money to very good use for our citizens. Our lives are materially better for the developments, fact, but more importantly we are doing what we can to help climate change by supporting the developments which we can see from our windows, its not enough yet I agree but its our best shot right now and yes its a work in progress, but we are doing something in Inveraray.

    Every wind objection is costing the country a fortune and that means less to give in social care or whatever, fact. Also green units attract a premium whether your support the science or not, they are worth a lot of money to a lot of people throughout Europe. Money that Scotland can use to offset fuel poverty if its people wishes and I as a proud Scot do wish to eliminate fuel poverty in Scotland. Thats what the vote is for and why you should speak to your elected officials letting them know what is important to you and what you expect of them in office. So stop laughing, you only have one set of sides, save them, and start doing something like supporting self determination in an independent Scotland were we the citizens can make a difference beyond what we see out of our windows. I care enough to walk my talk, do you? Ask your elected officials to campaign and work for the elimination of fuel poverty in Scotland. It is the Spector of our age.

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    • ‘doing what we can to support climate change’ – by trying to impose badly sited and enormously expensive offshore windfarms? – while apparently blind to the remarkable number of large thirsty ‘trophy’ 4wd cars cruising the roads of Argyll? – and I don’t mean the vehicles of farmers and contractors. And as for yachts, how about getting back to basics by banning engines? – that would sort the seafarers from the amateurs, and might do as much to combat climate change as building the Tiree array.
      Being squeezed by fuel poverty is a direct outcome of the increasing proportion of very expensive ‘green’ electricity being forced on us through the grid – but I wonder how many yachties and Range Rover drivers suffer from fuel poverty?

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    • Come now Robert, I feel sure you are aware that high fossil fuel prices, poor home energy efficiency and wage deflation/unemployment resulting from economic weakness are the main causes of fuel poverty.

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      • Economic weakness?

        We’ll be a lot weaker economically when we build more wind turbines and the Chinese and Germans get all their new coal fired stations up and running.

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        • China has 76GW of wind capacity and is expected to reach 100GW by 2015.

          Germany has 31GW of wind capacity and rising fast.

          The US has 60GW of wind capacity, also rising fast.

          The UK has less than 10GW of wind capacity.

          There doesn’t seem to be much sign that building wind farms leads to economic problems.

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          • China, with 300 times the population of Scotland has only 20 times as much wind power capacity. Is that your point, Tim?

            By my simple arithmetic, that means we’ve 15 times more wind energy capacity per capita than the Chinese. Or, put it another way, 15 times more of an uneconomic millstone hung round the neck of each and every retail energy consumer in Scotland, whether they like it or not.

            Scotland’s total wind energy production (the real measure, not capacity, note) was 8 TWh last year. China actually managed only 10 times that. Meanwhile, global fossil fuel consumption amounted to 125,000 TWh.

            So, the end result is that, thanks to the massive subsidies we paid to the wind turbine owners, we in Scotland managed to displace all of 0.006% of global fossil fuel consumed in 2012.

            Except, we probably didn’t. Market forces would have overridden, price elasticity of demand and all that, and the net effect of our substitution using expensive wind energy would have been to cause an infinitesimal reduction in the global price of coal, gas, oil. Ongoing growth in demand from other users of these was well able to take up the slack.

            At what point do we say we’ve done enough subsidising of the rest of the world’s energy consumption – is it when we achieve the Scottish Government’s characteristically facile, glib and technically illiterate target of 100% renewables by 2020? (Thought: this couldn’t be one massive ego trip by our leader? Could it?) Or would it be when the sun over cloud MacCuckoo land is finally blacked out by porcine flyers?

            As I’ve been saying for fifteen years now, Iceland has vast, techically viable, economically expoitable hydro and geothermal energy potential; we’re geographically best placed to tap into this; technically, it would involve no new unproven technology and would be straightforward, but a prerequisite would be real political leadership on both sides and a willingness to collaborate (a trait which is pathologically absent in Holyrood’s denizens.)

            Cheap, limitless energy! If we don’t, then I predict that Ireland or Norway will and the Norwegians don’t even need it, they’d just sell it on. Crucially, it would require capital, by the billions. So what do we do with our capital instead? We fritter it away on ludicrous totems to gesture politics which present outrageously, at our expense, zero-risk scam opportunites for the very rich.

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          • I was just responding to your own post, pm. It is pretty clear that major industrial economies across the world, including the two you mentioned yourself, are investing heavily in renewables including wind power. Thus your view that wind development is nothing but an economic ‘millstone’ does not appear to be widely shared.

            Your point about using per-capita figures is fair enough – but I notice you focused solely on China, and did not highlight that Germany’s wind capacity is around 3 times higher than the UK’s on that basis, and that even the US is ahead of us.

            Are you sure that it would be cheaper to invest all our money in developing another country’s renewable resources, and a huge (and hopefully very reliable) cable to bring the power over, than to just invest in our own – which are by all accounts the best in Europe?

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          • I didn’t bother to discuss Germany and the US because the story for them is much the same as for China.
            German wind turbines produced 46 TWh in 2012, only 6 times Scotland’s output with the subsidies to keep them going paid by a population 16 times as big.

            For the US, it’s 140 TWh, 16 times the wind energy production of Scotland spread over 63 times the population.

            It’s expensive, it depends entirely on subsidies and with numbers like these, it’s clear that the Scottish Government is determined to take us right out on a limb, comparable with no one in terms of dependence on wind, not even Denmark.

            With regard to wider economic planning, it’s a policy which is reckless and inept. In history, no nation has ever thrived economically by adopting, or being forced to adopt, a more expensive source of energy. There are plenty of examples of the reverse, however. Why collaborate with Iceland you ask? Because such a venture would amount to efficient use of capital to produce CHEAP energy, that’s why. There is a real market for cheap energy, there is only an artificial market for expensive energy and, with Scotland’s increasing dependence on wind, we’ll soon have the dubious honour of being world leader on that score.

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      • My last eye-watering electricity bill was the main cause of my fuel poverty, and – yes – poorly insulated homes are a major problem in this country.
        But so, I think, is a culture which is so actively chasing less environmentally damaging electricity production, at very substantially increased cost to the consumer – i.e. discouraging the use of electricity – but seems only to pay lip-service to discouraging the use of large fuel-guzzling cars.

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  6. Frankly, I don’t care about Princess Anne’s status in society…that she drives a 4 x4 , Sails, rides horses etc, etc, What I care about is that she has spoke up against inappropriate industrialisation of a beautiful place, the destruction of a least damaged most natural environment…yet another nail in the Argyll Array farce, hopefully this white elephant will soon be consigned to knackers yard.
    Some things are worth fighting for…and I am sincerely thankfull that HRH has vented her disaproval for the Argyll aka Tiree Array.

    I note with equal glee that The Islay array has also now been put on hold…and that Mr Trump is now also happily laughing his cashmere socks off at the slow collapse of the Aberdeen inshore wind farm proposal…all good news.

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    • Karl – what do you mean by the ‘slow collapse of the Aberdeen inshore wind farm proposal’ – I thought it had recently been given the go-ahead?

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    • Not only given the go-ahead, they’re now getting into the detailed geological investigation so it looks like the project’s started – but at least this one isn’t getting in the way of anything much (excepting the Trump ego), and the towers appear to be sited in an area used as an anchorage by a whole host of oil industry ships of all shapes and sizes.

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      • I have heard that the main developer…can’t remember if it is Vattna or the likes is looking at now selling its 75% share in the development proposal…
        I don’t have the info to hand…but a search around on the web might shine more light on mr Trumps smarmy grin…

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    • Malcolm – I’m not sure how requesting the source of a comment is ‘wrong again’… but thanks for the link anyway.

      It doesn’t look like it amounts to a ‘slow collapse’ to me, but I suppose it’s not that surprising that the Hootsmon and the Trump Organisation would spin it that way.

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  7. Whatever the many factors to be taken into account by the Holyrood government when they come to consider this project, I doubt they will give much weight to a one-line comment given to the Daily Mail by a lady whose knowledge of the project to date appears to be: “They gave planning permission for 700 windmills on the reef around Skerryvore…”

    More amusing still is a comment later in the same article (and preceding another saying how advantageous it is to be able to see so much of the country from one’s helicopter): “The Princess Royal said Americans in particular tended to be awestruck by the wilderness in Scotland, adding: ‘They can’t get a grip of the fact that you’ve got all these people living here yet you get these remarkable empty vistas’”

    Not that remarkable when you consider that much of the wilderness was created 150 years ago by her ‘sort’ forcing most of the ‘people living here’ off to… America! You’d think they of all people would have a pretty good grip of that :-)

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  8. I think offshore wind development is probably dead in Argyll anyway and HRH’s views are utterly irrelevant.

    Argyll’s loss will be the East coast’s gain and Argyll will remain little more than a retirement home for rich NIMBYs.

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  9. Please expand your reasoning to “think offshore wind development is probably dead in Argyll.”

    Your reference to ‘Argyll will remain little more than a retirement home for rich NIMBYs’is very subjective, and shows a lack of knowledge of Argyll’s demography.

    Neither Tiree(pop 800),nor Islay(pop 3500)would regard themselves as retirement homes for rich NIMBY’s.

    The proposed Tiree and Islay Arrays, 50-60Km from mainland Argyll,are not exactly in mainland Argyll-Scotland’s back yard!!!

    This may explain why both Tiree and Islay were picked, 4 years ago, to be the sites for both proposed Arrays.

    In Tiree’s case, the site,currently,for the largest UK offshore wind farm(1800MW),the 2nd largest in Europe and the 3rd largest in the World.

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    • There are a fair few retired, rich folk on Tiree. The price of houses with sea views should give you an inkling of that. Virtually nobody who works on the island can afford those prices. By no means all of those folk are NIMBYs but some of them are.

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    • This may explain why both Tiree and Islay were picked, 4 years ago, to be the sites for both proposed Arrays.

      I think you will find they were picked for a combination of water depth and wind resource, and not just to victimise the inhabitants of Tiree and Islay.

      (I’ve not seen any sign of a campaign against the Islay array mind you . . . )

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      • (1) NTA awaits your response as to why you “…think offshore wind development is probably dead in Argyll.”

        (2) The selection of both Arrays,in 2008 from a possible 23 sites,was Developer and Crown Estate lead. Scottish Government,at a Tiree public meeting in 2011,expressed its considerable dissatisfaction at this sequence.

        (3)It was not suggested that the selection of Tiree and Islay was to “ victimise the inhabitants of Tiree and Islay.” Don’t be silly. It is stating the obvious that Tiree and Islay’s demography and location, are such that any Tiree or Islay opposition into the L&C process,for these proposed Arrays,had the potential to be emasculated. SPR confirmed this,as such,at a Tiree public meeting in June 2010.

        (4) The fact that a combination of commercial, technical, and environmental issues have now rendered the development of Tiree Array indeterminate, and delayed Islay Array a further 12 months would suggest that SPR/SSER’s original 2008 selection criteria were superficial, or at best, naively aspirational.

        (5) Re Islay ‘protest’: Note this extract from minutes of Islay Community Council March 2013(SSER attended)
        ++
        ICC pointed out that had the locals been ‘correctly’ and thoroughly consulted, SSER would have been met with less vocal opposition.
        ++
        This dialogue has strayed from its originating point;- namely that a proposal for an onshore development of this scale, with proximity, to such a Grade A structure (One of greatest achievements in lighthouse engineering. Source: Historic Scotland) conceptually, may not pass first base.

        SPR’s suggestions for mitigation, so far, have been self-seeking, ill-conceived and meaningless.

        NTA looks forward to your amplification of your thinking “offshore wind development is probably dead in Argyll.”

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  10. If ships can hit rocks that have not moved for millennia then it is only a matter of time before a ship carrying something nasty ploughs into a wind power station causing massive pollution.

    Wasn’t it reported it recently that the grid is compensating the owners of wind power stations one million pound a day when there are high winds and the grid cannot use the energy produce, I did not read of the owners of the wind power stations compensating the grid when they cannot contribute anything to the grid because of the lack of wind. I cannot see why it should not work both ways.

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    • It’s even worse than that – during the recent Kintyre & Arran power emergency the Kintyre wind farms reportedly weren’t able to feed into the isolated section of the national grid because their output needed to be ‘blended’ with baseload power from elsewhere in Scotland – power that was unavailable because of the Crossaig area main line failure.

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