25.01.2013 - Mount Stuart 'hits out' at Historic ScotlandIt seems to be a case of 'special pleading' if reports in this week's Buteman are to be believed.
Whilst elsewhere in the paper, news comes in that parts of Rothesay are amongst the most deprived in Scotland the Mount Stuart Trust has 'hit out' at Historic Scotland, who have become the latest important statutory consultee to raise no objections in regard to our planning application for three wind turbines at Ascog Farm.
Historic Scotland join a list of other statutory consultees with no objections including the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Ministry of Defence and National Air Traffic Services.
Aside from Bute Community Council - many of whose members chose not even to read the detailed Environmental Statement (2.8MB PDF) into the plans before making their objection (on the back of an 8/3 majority vote at which we understand 5 or more members were absent) - only Scottish Natural Heritage have expressed reservations about some (visual sensitivity) aspects of the plans. They do that quite a lot with wind farm developments... We're getting back to them...
Mount Stuart House is a great place to visit, and a must-see for any visit to Bute. However, it does not exist in a bubble and it is perhaps ironic that from the gardens in front of the house dozens of wind turbines are visible on the Ayrshire coast opposite. These turbines are certainly much more visible from the house and grounds than those that would be erected at Ascog Farm if planning consent is granted. They don't seem to have stopped anyone from visiting, taking photographs or enjoying their day out! It seems unlikely that a smaller number of smaller turbines on Bute would have a much larger detrimental effect...
Of course - in contrast to Mr Nicol's assertion - it is not the job of Historic Scotland to base its statutory response on the volume of objections received by the local authority from members of the public. Instead, they rely on expert, impartial advice collected in the Environmental Statement (2.8MB PDF).
Deprivation - as measured by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) - is unfortunate for those affected and undesirable wherever it exists.
Unfortunately, it exists on Bute, where parts of Rothesay (ironically, those that visitors to the Island are amongst the first to see) fall within the top 15% of the most deprived local areas ('datazones') in Scotland.
It doesn't make great reading. The findings - based on a study examining employment, income, health, education, skills and training, geographic access to services, crime and housing - appear to tally with our own analysis of socio-economic conditions near the farm based on older 2001 Census data.
As the Editor of The Buteman makes clear, 'something must be done'.
Perhaps a community benefit wind farm sharing revenues from electricity sales might be one of the ways ahead?