Tory MEP blasts Ascog wind farm plan

Struan Stevenson, Scotland’s only Conservative MEP and president of the climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development intergroup in the European Parliament, has hit out at proposals to erect three wind turbines on land at Ascog Farm on Bute.

Mr Stevenson’s stated concerns include the impact of the proposed turbines on tourism, nearby homes and health - including the effects of noise and ‘shadow flicker’.

Mr Stevenson was contacted by residents opposed to the application after the applicant, Adrian Tear, gave a presentation to Bute Community Council last September.

Mr Tear, meanwhile, told The Buteman he expects to submit a planning application for the three turbines to Argyll and Bute Council within the next month (see link to the right to read our separate story on Mr Tear’s comments).

Mr Stevenson’s views on the application, in full, are as follows:

“Why destroy some of our most pristine, ancient landscape in order to build wind turbines that will last 20 years at a push? That is just one of the concerns raised by Bute islanders in a series of recent community meetings to discuss the three planned wind turbines at Ascog Farm.

“Contrary to the belief of Adrian Tear, the man behind the plans, these turbines will not help to reduce carbon emissions and halt climate change.

“In a presentation to Bute Community Council on the day that planning permission was granted for a temporary 50-metre wind monitoring mast at Ascog Farm, Mr Tear spoke of polar ice caps melting and sea-levels rising. He noted that his “children’s children may live to see the island start to go under water.

“We all face a responsibility to tackle climate change, but this type of blatant scaremongering is wholly unacceptable. Mr Tear’s three turbines will do nothing more than despoil the landscape and reduce the value of local land.

“More worryingly, the Scottish Government’s recommendation of a 2km separation distance between turbines and residential dwellings has been completely ignored. These turbines will be spaced between three hundred and 450 metres apart, leaving just five hundred metres between the turbines and some residential homes, including Balmory Hall which is a Grade-A listed mansion house and gate lodge of outstanding national architectural importance.

“The turbines will also impact Ascog Hall and its rare Victorian fernery, Southpark, two Landmark Trust properties and at least another 11 listed properties in the surrounding area.

“The wind turbines will impact tourism, a vital source of income for many islanders. Besides being home to some of Scotland’s finest heritage sites including Rothesay Castle, Mount Stuart House, St Blane’s Chapel and numerous standing stones and stones circles, the Isle of Bute is a haven for nature tourists.

“More than one hundred species of birds live on Bute, attracting many dedicated ornithologists. People travel from all over Scotland and from further afield for rambling, cycling and fishing holidays on the Island. Rothesay Golf Course, Port Bannatyne Golf Course and Bute Golf Course are arguably some of Scotland’s most scenic courses and the importance of golf to Bute’s economy simply cannot be overstated.

“If constructed, the turbines will intrude on many of Bute’s tourist attractions, but the potentially hazardous impacts of the turbines on local residents’ health are most worrying. The health impact of wind farms has recently become a hot topic in the media and independent biomedical experts have shown that living close to a turbine can cause headaches, dizziness, sleep deprivation, unsteadiness, nausea, exhaustion, mood-swings and the inability to concentrate.

“The low-frequency noise emitted by a turbine travels easily and varies according to the wind. This constitutes a permanent risk to people exposed to it. There is even military weaponry that relies on low-frequency sound for crowd control purposes.

“At high intensities it creates discrepancies in the brain, producing disorientation in the body and resulting in what is called ‘simulated sickness’. The Israeli army uses this technology to cause instability, nausea and headaches. It is great for crowd control as it has no adverse effects...unless you are exposed to it for hours, as you would be if you lived beside a turbine.

“Turbine noise is particularly dangerous when combined with visual effects such as shadow flicker. This compounds the adverse impact on residents and can induce both physical and psychological symptoms. Visual flicker and ‘strobing’ effects occur at certain times of the day, similar to when you drive past a row of trees with the sun behind them. Night-time flicker can also occur with the rising and setting of the moon.

“On elevated ridges or hills, tall turbines can cast shadows for thousands of feet, well above any vegetative screening and nearby residents will be exposed to numerous shadow flickers simultaneously. That is, all three blades of each turbine will cause flicker, and the flicker from each turbine will not be synchronised.

“Needless to say, the Scottish Government has yet to legislate properly against shadow flicker or any other of the potentially hazardous health consequences of turbines. But the threat is very real and must be considered by the planners at Argyll and Bute Council and by Community Energy Scotland, who have endorsed the planned turbines at Ascog Farm.”