Wind farm pylons: steel giants of the glens: In the rush to meet wind farm targets, pylons and turbines are blighting our countryside. A vision for the entire nation: partly built pylons at the start of the Beauly to Denny power line. It is a preview of what may await much of wild Britian. In the dramatic countryside west of Inverness, a single-track road pitches and turns between dark purple hills and the fast-flowing River Beauly. Then you round a corner and find a scene of total destruction.
Along a strip 300 yards wide, the trees have been ripped out, leaving nothing but stumps and bare, scarred earth. It looks like the Space Shuttle has crashed into the hillside – except that it stretches into the distance farther than you can see.
In fact it stretches, or soon will do, for 140 miles, through the heart of the Highlands, Europe’s largest upland wilderness. And above the scorched earth is rising the first of 600 electricity pylons, each the height of a 15-storey tower block, dominating mountains and ridgelines as they go. It is a preview of the future for much of wild Britain. As The Sunday Telegraph revealed last week, hundreds of miles of new pylon lines are planned across the country’s finest landscapes to serve the ever-growing wind industry. This one, from Beauly to Denny, near Stirling, is the first.
“In 2002, you could stand in 41 per cent of Scotland and see no visual impact from built development,” says Helen McDaid, of the John Muir Trust, which campaigns for wild land. “By 2009, it was down to 28 per cent, largely due to wind farms.” That figure, produced by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), will be even lower by now. It fell by 3 per cent in 2008 alone. But it has not been updated since – Scotish Natural Heritage (SNH) say that they were “working on it” but it was “complicated”. Well if this appalling situation isn’t addressed soon there will be no Natural Heritage left in Scotland to protect.