In a battle to save the offshore Isle of Tiree from vanishing behind a modern-day marine forest of onshore to offshore wind turbines – the Tiree Array will be around five times the size of the Island itself, wrapped around sunny flat little Tiree from the south east to the north west and both enveloping and towering over the glorious Skerryvore Lighthouse.
The image above is a facsimile of how the Array – which starts from 3 miles off shore – would look between Hough and Ceann-a-Mhara.
The determined No Tiree Array campaigners, with a planning decision on the near horizon, have quickly made use of the battle the American tycoon, Donald Trump, has just carried to Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond.
Trump, who is developing a golf resort the size of a small town at a 200 hectare stretch of the beautiful Balmenie dunes on the northern fringe of Aberdeen. It will have two golf courses – one an international competition standard course, the other a second 18 hole course, both pay-to-play. The resort will have a club house, hotel, apartments and several hundred houses.
This is, of course, a huge investment for the north east, with Scotland’s golf courses – built upon the country’s claim to have given birth to the game itself, an successful emblematic marketing feature.
Trump in incensed by a plan for an offshore 11-turbine test farm which will be in view of the Menie resort.
He says he was given private assurances that it would not get permission, a claim denied, not entirely plausibly, one has to say, by the First Minister.
With the government now refusing to stop the test site wind farm Trump has opened hostilities.
His letter to the First Minister is here: Trumps letter to Salmond – a duneful triumph of overt intent, abandonment of corporate-speak, most rhetorical tricks in the book, threats of funding an international protest campaign, dire warnings, some facts that cause pause for thought and the evocation of his Stornoway mother in a closing phrase where you can almost him say ‘Scatland’.
The No Tiree Array team are circulating the letter to all those concerned about offshore wind farms in Argyll waters, saying that Mr Trump’s anxieties are of considerable relevance to Argyll and to the Argyll economy.
The man who does not like to lose has also evidently sent this letter to every MSP, to Prime Minister David Cameron (a deliberate irritation) and to Prince Charles, hoping, one imagines, for some black spider handwriting to wend its way to Bute House.
The Tiree campaigners say that the Trump letter resonates with many issues they themselves have raised in the last 18 months.
They say: ‘When Trumps states in this letter ” ..it will be looking through the bars of a prison …” please look at the attached Tiree image (top) and you will come to the the same conclusion with regard to the SPR ( Iberdrola ) proposed development off Tiree of a 180-300 Turbine wind farm, each approx 160-200m high, the closest of which will only be 3 miles from Tiree’s shores and its community.’
And yes, we do think this requires a pause for serious thought. The overall pan for the waters around Tiree, include this massive offshore windfarm running SE to NW, another to its north, and a wave farm and marine turbine farm to its east, ringing an island majoring on its naturalness with an artificial environment whose impacts no one has seriously measured.
Then there is the scale of the landside infrastructure to handle the power coming ashore and it transmission…
But then we don’t live there – although community sustainability issues in remote places are a daily reality to everyone living in Argyll who understands the fragility of life in these beautiful area. How long would the immediate economic uplift last? And what would be the legacy when the last lumberjack, so to speak, left town? Who knows?
A problem is that there is no contra-campaign putting its views widely in the public domain. We cannot therefore know whether this is because the pro-lobby is quite small or because it is, as islanders culturally can be, quiet.
I what we openly recognise to be an unresolved conflict in our own stance on renewables and on energy provision, it has been the brutalist overall plan for the Tiree marine area which has driven us, unimaginably, not to dismiss the nuclear option.