Saturday, 4 February 2012

Rose tinted spectacles

Earlier this afternoon, I was having one of those surfing sessions - you know, the type that sends you all over the web, getting distracted left right and centre - leaving you eventually at a place that bears little resemblance to your original target! Well, I ended up at the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) website - and more specifically, at a part that I didn't even know existed: the planning database. Sad really, but there you go!

Having found myself at the DECC planning database page, I decided to head over to their Renewables Map. Now, I'm the first to admit I struggle to keep a handle on what is going on in this tiny area of Scotland, but I thought the might of DECC would have their finger on the pulse. After selecting the appropriate options I produced the following map of wind farms in the South Carrick area (which I thought, should tie-in quite well with my map - at least, that is what I thought):

Looking at this map, no reference is made to the following submitted planning applications:

  • Kilgalioch
  • Breaker Hill
  • Assel Valley
  • Tralorg Hill
  • Dersalloch

even though the 'Submitted' filter was set.

Additionally, note how the same icon is used to indicate the Girvan Community Hospital turbine as is used for the entire Arecleoch development (which spans 9,637 acres); there is no indication of an individual development's scale. Well, not true - if you click on a turbine symbol (on the real map), you do get an installed capacity figure - but that's it. So, what precisely is going on here? Is a wind farm development regarded by DECC as just a pin on a map? Is there a deliberate intent to not show the true scale of development being undertaken? Is it pure incompetence on the part of DECC? One can only guess, and hope that Chris Huhne's replacement starts his tenure at DECC by trying to get a handle on the pickle his predecessor has left him.

The impact of this apparent lack of understanding is more concerning if you consider Chic Brodie's reaction to the out of date SNH wind farm footprint maps at the Wind Farm conference in Ayr towards the end of last year (given that he sits on the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee). He expressed surprise at the scale of development shown on them - I wonder if he normally looks at the DECC map - or any map at all? Does anybody in authority have a clue what is going on and just as importantly, do they actually care?