IT had been a good day on the hill; six hours over three Munros and we had come across only a few items of litter which we bagged and removed.
But that feeling of satisfaction didn’t last long because, when you look at the bigger picture, we really wondered why we had bothered.
Picking up discarded bottles, cans and food wrappers is all very worthy, but recent events have convinced me that we are swimming against a tsunami.
No sooner had I jettisoned our collection when the news came through that another giant wind farm had been given the green light despite massive opposition.
The Court of Session in Edinburgh had overturned an earlier ruling against SSE Renewables’ application for 67 turbines at Stronelairg in the Monadhliath mountains at a judicial review hearing.
They had Scottish Government backing despite the fact the John Muir Trust charity had claimed the project would be a blight on a “precious area of wild Scotland”. Whatever happened to our wild lands pledge?
To add insult to injury, there’s now a possibility of the charity having to fork out a fortune in court costs. If this is the case, our elected representatives should hang their heads in shame.
Bad enough they bulldoze their ill-thought policies through without any proper consultation and in a whirlpool of obfuscation, but any attempt to financially punish a charity which is prepared to take on the big corporations for the sake of the environment is disgraceful.
Yes, we need alternative sources of clean energy, but the indecent haste with which these projects are battered through and the subsequent waste of money involved leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
This is not a policy to benefit the ordinary person. This is a millionaire’s dream - money being thrown at already rich landowners, many of them absentee landlords, to allow the spread of windmills all over the land.
The true cost of this has never been properly calculated. For instance, the owner of one company paid millions to service offshore wind turbines admits that the diesel used by the service barges far outweighs any saving in the carbon footprint.
The number of pending applications is frightening, and there doesn‘t seem to be any measure of control. If JMT is hit hard in the pocket then more and more of these schemes will sail through unchallenged. Still, at least it will save money somewhere. No need for all those folk trying to sell Scotland to tourists any more - there will be no unspoiled views left to peddle.
According to a recent survey, tourists are not put off by fields of turbines obstructing lochs and mountains. In fact, the BiGGAR Economics study claims they have no adverse effect whatsoever. This flawed report would be laughable if it wasn’t so wrapped up in dangerous industry spin and cherry-picked figures that will merely encourage further encroachment. We are being fed swill and told it is caviar.
And while this ill wind blows stronger and stronger, there are other outrages being perpetrated on our landscape, the latest being the mess inflicted on Cairn Gorm in the pursuit of a replacement ski tow. The company named Natural Retreats without any hint of irony, has been blasted for creating an access track and re-engineering a slope without consent.
They have now been ordered to apply for retrospective planning permission, but the damage, as they say, has been done and a slap on the wrist and a warning to behave in future is simply not enough. There has to be a proper punishment for transgressors.
Drop a piece of litter and you could (quite rightly) be fined, but tear up tracts of a fragile landscape or bulldoze unsightly tracks up a mountain slope without permission and you will likely avoid any sanctions.
It’s all deeply depressing but it won’t stop me picking up litter. Only next time I may drive round to the nearest wind farm and empty the rubbish out there.