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(there was an error in the calculations I …

Comment posted Pilots concerned on wind farm generated air turbulence by Dr Douglas McKenzie.

(there was an error in the calculations I used for this post so I have deleted it as it was misleading)

Dr Douglas McKenzie also commented

  • Sticks and stones Malcolm, sticks and stones.

    I stopped contributing because it was becoming very repetitive and more than a little self indulgent of little interest to anyone other than those contributing (as indicated by the rather few thumbs up/down).

  • Karl: I stand by my earlier comments: there is little in the way of available sites for future hydro schemes in Scotland so you are fretting about a non-existent threat.

    SSE have plans for two new pumped storage schemes details of which can be found here:

    I cannot comment in detail directly on either scheme but on first glance I don’t think either will have much impact on wildlife nor will they displace people. One uses an existing lochan. There was a proposal for a scheme on Ben Lomond but that was buried decades ago. Beyond these two schemes, I’m not aware of any other plans for pump storage schemes in Scotland. A recent report concluded that the cost of pump storage was marginally higher than the cost of just putting in the necessary additional generating capacity and that better interconnectivity and demand restraints were more cost effective.

    For a detailed look at storage options see:

    In conclusion, there is unlikely to be any major increase in hydro, including pumped storage in Scotland beyond small, localised schemes. Your concerns over an environmentally damaging increase in hydro thus seem misplaced.

    I’m beginning to find your repeated accusations that I don’t understand the environmental consequences of renewables a bit irksome and perhaps a bit rich coming from someone who makes his living from an industry that really does cause gross environmental damage.

    I’m not going to respond further to this thread.

  • Karl: I can’t speak for SR but I have never advocated “flooding the glens/covering the tops in turbines”. Nor will you find in much of what I have written that espouses “industrial” as a good thing. I just don’t see it as the terrible thing that you do but I am also firmly in favour of community control of renewable assets and a sensitive approach to our deployment of renewables.

    I think what both SR and myself are reacting to though is your emotive language and in particular your premise that the West of Scotland (in particular) is some sort of pristine wilderness. Both of us are making the reasonable point that pretty much all of Scotland has been shaped by the hand of man. The big stuff – the mountains, the glens that make up the topography – is geology that has been shaped by climate but everything else – the vegetation, wildlife, land use and distribution of settlements – is man made and this has a profound effects on our scenery.

    I’m certainly not suggesting that because Scotland’s scenery can be considered artificial that this means that it should have no bearing on the deployment of renewables. I’m as proud and protective of our landscape as you evidently are but I do have a keen sense of its origins and an understanding that what we see is not the natural state. nor indeed is it necessarily what we should leave it as.

    You are too quick to presume on what others think and you are certainly misrepresenting my position. I feel that this thread and indeed this whole topic has gone on too long (and I’m as guilty as anyone of being the cause of this) but here are some parting thoughts that actually represent my views rather than the box you seem so keen to put me in:

    1: Hydro is an excellent renewable energy source but it does have large scale environmental impacts; Scotland has already used up the best locations for large scale hydro deployment so further acceptable development is likely to be incremental.

    2: Onshore wind is the most versatile and easily deployed renewable technology available; it has limited environmental impact but is visually intrusive; Scotland has excellent wind resources and there is scope for increasing the contribution of onshore wind to our renewable mix; further expansion, however, needs to be balanced against the need to maintain the air of “wilderness” in the more remote areas of Scotland and in areas of scenic beauty. Organisations such as the John Muir Trust are right to be concerned over the loss of “wildness” and there needs to be a national debate and stronger policy formation around how to strike the balance between visual amenity and energy generation.

    3: Offshore wind has the greatest potential for making a major impact on renewable generation; Scotland has some of the best wind resources in the world ; offshore wind is, however, very expensive compared to onshore wind and there are concerns that project financing may be difficult to find for all of the planned installations; offshore should mean just that – the proposed array for Tiree strikes me as unacceptably intrusive and not in keeping with the scenic beauty of the area and it may also have an unacceptable impact on the marine life in the area (at least in the short term); offshore wind that can use floating structures rather than rely on shallow reefs would be a much more satisfactory solution.

    4: Biomass should be prioritised for domestic and light industrial heating (and CHP) rather than large scale electricity production. Importing wood to fuel biomass plant is just silly.

    5: Solar PV is currently expensive and not particularly appropriate for northern latitudes; solar PV generating costs are, however, falling significantly and the technology is also advancing rapidly so that it may become the primary renewable technology in temperate and tropical latitudes; even more than other renewable technologies (other than biomass) it urgently needs a complementary storage method as the technology is useless at night.

    6: wave power is still in its infancy but offers a useful source of electricity; wave power generators will require considerable areas of sea to be devoted to them if they are to make any significant impact; though this is not likely to pose much of a visual intrusion it may cause concerns to other marine industries.

    7: Tidal power is an excellent renewable because of its complete predictability; Scotland has excellent tidal resources and these can probably be tapped into without unacceptable environmental impacts though these require more study; the technology is, however, likely to be expensive.

    8: Anaerobic Digestion (AD) and waste to power plants are useful but not likely to be significant players in renewable generation in Scotland though they may have more impact elsewhere.

    9: Nuclear remains the only mainstream, non-fossil fuel source that has a high power density suitable for providing secure base load; it has good levels of operational safety but carries with it the risk of catastrophic failure and the unsolved problem of radioactive waste; there are severe doubts over the availability of project finance for new nuclear plants without significant subsidies that will likely make nuclear a more expensive option (certainly to the consumer) than many of the renewable technologies.

    10: Gas remains the fossil fuel of choice and will become increasingly important globally for electricity generation; it is more environmentally acceptable than coal but is still a major CO2 producer; while global reserves methane are enormous, extraction methods are controversial and may pose unacceptable demands on water resources; energy security is a major issue with gas supplies; fuel price fluctuations limit its usefulness from a national perspective and high demand is likely to push prices up beyond many forms of renewables within this decade.

    11: Coal should be phased out as a power source because of its unacceptable environmental impacts. CCS is unlikely to be cost effective and in any case does not mitigate the direct environmental impacts of coal mining.

    12: Energy conservation should remain the priority focus but it needs to be recognised that much of the UK’s housing stock is unsuitable for practical energy conservation; while new housing will have excellent energy conservation this comes at the price of higher building costs. Deployment of technologies that will significantly increase electricity demand (such as electric cars) are not prudent until we have solved the problems of generating enough clean electricity.

    13: Power transmission by overhead power lines has major impacts on visual amenity; where possible, sub sea transmission should be used in preference to overland; transmission lines should, where practical, be underground even when this means higher utility charges; the Beauly-Denny line was a missed opportunity in this regard.

    I hope this clarifies my own position in regards to energy development. It is a complicated area and we are faced with many difficult choices. What I would hope is that people can debate these them without the need to personalise the issues, resorting to unhelpful and misleading hyperbole or lack respect for other people’s positions and thinking.

  • And let’s not forget the clearances which produced so much of the “wilderness”.
  • Didn’t say you were Karl.

    I don’t think anyone on here is in favour of irresponsible wind development and each site has to be taken on its merits. However, you aren’t doing your case any good by such an outburst of hyperbole as it just alienates all of us who believe in a responsible approach to our energy needs, our communities and our country (including the natural world that forms such an important part of it).

Recent comments by Dr Douglas McKenzie

  • Rustle with Russell
    More utter rubbish from Lynda Henderson. Have you actually spoken to Bob Allen? Whoever told you the story sold you a pup and in your arrogance you cannot admit to be wrong so you make up this story that he was persuaded not to resign.

    Your position is completely untenable.

  • Russell back in the bathtub, now trying to sink Keith Brown’s boat
    I’m afraid you condemn yourself by your own words. I don’t think that anyone reading what you have written here and the language you have used would conclude anything other than that you have a deep dislike for Mr Russell and that dislike is leading you to basically lose all sense of either proportion or impartiality. It doesn’t matter how well (or otherwise) you know Mr Russell you are clearly exercised by your interpretation of his actions and it is leading you well beyond the pale in what I would consider fair comment.

    This vendetta against Mr Russell and the SNP is destroying FA’s credibility and I have to confess that I’m seriously considering whether or not to continue reading FA (which will cheer Malcolm up if nothing else). I for one am becoming increasingly disenchanted by the constant negativity and sheer nastiness that has crept into this blog. I say that with a lot more sorrow than anger because I think that FA could have been great and indeed still could but there has to be a degree of balance, civility and indeed humour. All we are getting here is bile and it is causing me heartburn.

  • Russell back in the bathtub, now trying to sink Keith Brown’s boat
    To be honest, this post clearly shows that you are speaking from your personal dislike of Mr Russell rather than an unbiased analysis of the man. Phrases such as “publicity hungry coward” are well beyond what is reasonable comment.
  • Russell back in the bathtub, now trying to sink Keith Brown’s boat
    You don’t seem to understand the separation of a MSP’s duty to his or her constituency and their responsibilities as a Government Minister.

    Yet again, this is another instance where a member of the Government can do no right: speak up and be condemned as “desperate” or stay silent and be accused of not serving your constituents’ interests.

    It is just as well that Mr Russell has broad shoulders!

  • Atlantic Islands Centre for Luing: biggest investment in island’s history
    Well done Luing – an inspiration to all of Argyll’s communities.

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