Energy and its impacts on wild land

Published: 9th June 2015

Read about our work to influence energy policy to better protect wild land

Wild land has faced a growing threat in recent years from industrial-scale energy developments, including some wind farms, transmission lines and associated infrastructure. Developments like these can have serious environmental and visual impacts.

Beauly Denny#2

The Trust is concerned about the impacts of industrial-scale wind farms in or near Scotland's Wild Land Areas (typically comprising 19 or more turbines of 125 metres or more in height).

The scale of impact of wind farm development in Scotland can be seen from figures released by Scottish Natural Heritage. The SNH Natural Heritage Indicator 3, last updated in November 2014, shows how the area of Scotland from which one or more types of built development can be seen increased to 73% in 2013. The largest change in visual influence is due to wind turbines - increasing to 45.9% in 2013, more than double the 2008 baseline of 19.9%.

Griffin wind farm

The Trust is committed to policy principles that support the current targets of the UK Government and devolved governments for greenhouse gas emissions reduction. However, we have major concerns about the impact of industrial-scale energy developments on wild land and think there are ways of meeting our emissions targets without damaging wild land. Wild land is closely associated with peatlands which play a vital role in retaining carbon in the ground, so it doesn't make sense to damage them with inappropriately-sited development. Increasingly, others are calling for concentration on carbon-emissions reduction in the most cost-effective way, rather than concentrating on renewables targets. Energy conservation measures are usually more efficient and cost-effective than any energy generation method.

We need to develop the most efficient mix of technologies that’s capable of providing a safe, secure and reliable energy system in the future. True sustainability requires joined up thinking, with all costs and benefits properly assessed before decisions are made. We believe there is a need for a National Energy Commission for the UK to provide a more strategic approach to land management and sustainable energy generation, reducing the current pressure on wild land.