Tilting at windmills in Scotland

By Eric Watkins
The Scotsman newspaper reports that opposition to the Scottish government's pledge to produce 100% of the country's electricity from renewable sources by 2020 is growing.

Mountain walker and broadcaster Cameron McNeish is the latest name to be added to the growing list of experts who believe the plans to create more green energy are unsustainable - and could ruin Scotland's much-loved landscape.

To meet the new target, Scotland would need to create hundreds more wind turbines and also bring wave and tidal energy technology to commercialization - a feat which some engineers believe is impossible within the next decade.

McNeish told the paper that the creation of more wind farms would "erode the bonnie aspect of Bonnie Scotland" and could devastate the tourism industry, which is heavily reliant on visitors drawn to Scotland's remote mountains and lochs.

Scottish Engineering chief executive Peter Hughes has claimed that the target is unattainable - while conservation group the John Muir Trust has also hit out at plans for more onshore wind developments on Scottish wild land.

McNeish warned that the development of onshore wind farms would blight the Scottish landscape and urged voters to select members of the Scottish Parliament focused on channeling money into wave, tidal and offshore wind developments.

"I support the quest for renewable energy. But what really concerns me is the proliferation of these giant turbines on our hills and wild places. I know the number of people who come to Scotland to enjoy these wild places and I have a great fear that they will stop coming as we lose more and more of these areas to this form of industrialization."

But Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said less than 1% of Scotland's landmass is occupied by turbines.

"Onshore wind is the most readily deployed, cost efficient and effective form of renewable energy in Scotland, which is already providing more than 10% of our electricity needs," he said, adding that Whitelee windfarm is one of Scotland's most popular visitor attractions.

Maybe it’s a new breed of tourist.
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