Carrick residents in Edinburgh march

anti-windfarm protesters will march through Edinburgh today to respond to the Scottish Government’s decision to lease forests to the four highest bidding electricity companies for windfarm development.

The decision, made without public consultation, was the final straw for many who believe these developments are destroying Scottish countryside.

And the march, organised by the Anti-Windfarm Group, will make it’s way through Edinburgh before finishing outside the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood.

Protesters believe the decision by the Scottish Government, to allow wind farm companies to develop in the country’s forests, shows they are determind to ruin Scotland’s natural landscape.

Susan Crosthwaite operates a bed and breakfast in South Carrick and believes the area’s surroundings are being ruined by wind farm developments.

She said: “When tourism is worth £11 billion to the Scottish economy, why are our politicians determind to trash our beautiful natural landscape with the construction of the mammoth steel towers, hughe blades, vast concrete foundations under every turbine, borrow pits, drains, service roads, overhead power-lines and pylons, creating an industrial wasteland.

“Just how many tourists will want to return to Scotland when all they see on every horizon are wind turbines?”

Susan will be one of a group of people from Carrick marching through the streets of Edinburgh today against further wind farm development.

She said: “I visited the beautiful conservation village of Barr recently to attend a Scottish Garden Scheme event and was horrified by the domination of the 53 wind turbines which every visitor from the north drives beneath.

“Skylarks, grouse and other other protected species of birds and wildlife habitats, ecologically fragile water courses are all destroyed in the name of greed.

“Arecleoch is now in operation on the hills close to where I live and there are plans to extend this at Kilgallioch with a further 132 turbines.

“This will destroy where many of my guests walk, to the highest point in the area, Beneraird, at 1,435 feet.

“The path to its summit is part of the old road from Ballantrae to New Luce and the views are remarkable with vistas extending from the Isle of Man to Arran.”

March organisers, the WindFarm Action Group, argue that it costs 2.3p to produce one unit of electricity using gas, it costs 2.5p to produce the same amount of electicity using nuclear energy.

Using wind power, the cost rises to 9.8p.

They argue: “In the face of such figures, most reasonable people interested in cleaner, sustainable energy would surely go off and build carbon-free, nuclear power stations or gas-fuelled ones.

“Already, these additional costs are adding 50 per cent to all our energy bills, at a time of severe economic hardship, when thousands of jobs are being lost and households struggle to make ends meet.”

The rights to exploit parts of the Forestry Commission’s land-holdings have been handed to Spanish-owned Scottish Power, German-run EoN and PNE, and Norwegian company Fred Olsen.

Ministers argue that the deals will help Scotland meet its ambitious target of sourcing 80 per cent of all its electricity from renewables by 2002.

The Forestry Commission also says that local communities will receive £5,000 for every megawatt produced by the farms, equivalent to around £15,000 per year per turbine.

The contracts will hand the companies the right to explore where new windfarms will be sited.

The four successful firms will now commence an eight-month process identifying suitable sites in their allotted locations.

The scale of the projects planned means that they could help deliver a fifth of ministers’ targets on renewable energy. But the massive deal will trigger protests from anti-windfarm campaigners as well as the Scottish renewables sector.

Environment minister Roseanna Cunningham said: “Generating energy from clean sources is a key part of the Government’s strategy in tackling climate change. Forestry Commission Scotland is ramping up its contribution in this area by entering into new partnerships with energy companies.”

A spokesman for Forestry Commission Scotland said: “The whole tendering process has been open, honest, totally fair and followed best practice.

“It has taken the best part of a year to conduct, and every company has had a level playing field to bid from.