WE HAD just descended into the Lairig Gartain from an early morning jaunt up Buachaille Etive Mor when my American friend stopped and stared up the length of the glen in astonishment.
He couldn’t believe there were no houses in such a beautiful spot. If this were the US, he said, there would have been buildings.
I laughed and explained that this was wild land and that here in Scotland it was protected from development. I’m not laughing now.
The current march of giant wind turbines is engulfing our country at an alarming rate.
The Borders have already fallen, white windmills standing in line of sight virtually everywhere you turn. The landscape is akin to something HG Wells would have dreamed up, and it’s now too late to rescue some of these beauty spots.
The battle to halt the proposed Allt Duine wind farm at the gates of the Cairngorms has been fiercely fought and we await the final verdict. This abomination would be visible from many of our finest peaks, a vista ruined forever by greed.
And now the far north is in the firing line again, with a huge development being proposed at Caplich just off the A837 road near Bonar Bridge. There are already wind farms scattered in this area, but nothing on this scale. The Caplich ones would be among the largest turbines erected onshore, each reaching nearly 450 feet. And there will 20 of them. The effect on some of our most remote and beautiful countryside will be devastating.
The Munros of Conival and Ben More Assynt are regarded as two of our finest, the views from their shattered ridges likewise. Look hard enough and you can already see turbines off to the east. But the Caplich leviathans would fill the skyline to the south-east.
The wilds of Sutherland and Caithness are unique; mountains of the most outrageous, seemingly impossible, shapes. The area is home to the North West Highlands Geopark, described as “a land of world-class quality, significance and importance.” If that is not land to be protected what is?
Now this can be stopped. It must be stopped.
The Scottish Government recently produced a map of our wild land - now it must deliver on the promise that this land is out of bounds for the get-richer-quick individuals and companies who seem to care not a jot for our heritage, history or natural world.
Some argue there is no wild land, that there is already development everywhere. There are electricity pylons, dams and the like, so why not turbines?
They have just jumped on the bandwagon of huge subsidies to try and grab whatever they can in this free for all and make their bank balances grow no matter what the cost.
And don’t be fooled by the claim that “it’s only a few windmills”. There’s also the access roads to build and service the turbines and the damage caused to the terrain for miles around which, despite all the promises made, is never properly restored to its original state.
Even the promised jobs boom and windfalls for the local communities are wildly exaggerated and, in many cases, simply a myth. These modern-day snake oil salesmen will try to sell you anything. This is industrial mission creep on a mammoth scale.
At this rate, Glen Coe won’t be the only ‘glen of weeping’. We will be weeping for all of our glens if we don’t get this under control now.