First of all, thanks to everyone who turned up to the HOFWIG public meetings at Torphins and Banchory on Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th July.
The meetings, held after the RES exhibitions on the 20th and 21st June, had two main purposes. Firstly, to make sure that the true (non-propagandised) facts about the development were out in the public domain, and secondly, to provide information to individuals so that they would be better prepared to express their views to councillors. With the removal of local democracy by the transfer of decision-making rights from local councils to the Energy Consents Unit (ECU) within the Scottish Government, contacting our local councillors is key to having any influence on this project.
Both meetings were well attended with keen interest and insightful questions and points, and there seemed to be a general atmosphere of disapproval towards the project, with some having very strong opinions. Our apologies for the projection quality at the Banchory meeting, which was due to the last-minute change of venue forced upon us by the council deciding they could not find anyone to open the Townhall building.
The slides shown at the meeting are here. There was not time to cover everything and more information on some of the topics in the leaflet that was available at the meeting are included.
Topics covered in the presentations and Q&A session included visual & landscape impact, windfarm ‘creep’, noise, wildlife impact, plastic pollution, hydrology, the Battle of Corrichie, the battery storage development, transmission, effects on roads etc. etc.
It became increasingly obvious to everyone attending the meeting that there are a lot more potential issues with this proposed wind factory than initially meet the eye, or that are being openly discussed by RES.
For some I believe these meetings were a real eye opener, very unlike the presentations by RES which obviously aimed to downplay what are clearly significant and common problems. For many I suspect the meetings confirmed their fears and reinforced their opinion that the Hill of Fare is not an appropriate site for a windfarm. There appeared to be almost universal support for renewable energy and windfarms, but only in the right place and at the right time.
We are repeatedly told that wind and solar are now the cheapest forms of energy and this is true when considering only the immediate generation costs. However, when the full cost of generating and then transmitting that power to where it is finally used are considered then onshore wind, in particular, comes at a significantly higher cost; from the extra transmission lines required and the landscape and wildlife destruction from both the generation and transmission.
What is particularly aggravating for people living in rural locations closest to the windfarms and associated transmission lines is that their wellbeing is being sacrificed for the greater good, with no acknowledgement or compensation for their loss. This is exacerbated by the knowledge that once one windfarm has been built it will almost certainly be followed by others as much of the infrastructure has been installed and future extensions are therefore highly attractive.
A survey of people who attended the RES presentations showed 75% were opposed to windfarm, while 12% were in favour with the rest being neutral or unsure. The key reason for folk supporting the project appeared to be the feeling that the HoF windfarm was a necessary price to pay for the UK’s drive for net zero. This was addressed directly by making the case that offshore wind has reached the stage of being a similar priced alternative, but without the visual and environmental impact. Given the huge potential for offshore wind in Scottish waters there is no need for further onshore wind development beyond the most favourable sites and what is already consented.
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