Undeniably tourism is a critical part of the Borders economy and nowhere more so than at sites of national interest such as Hermiston Castle.
The atmosphere of centuries of spine-chilling intrigue attracts frequent visitors to this breathtaking and unnerving location from all over the world to experience and absorb its awe-inspiring mood of feuds, battles and murders.
The land, like the castle, is as primal as the ghostly white owl that floats over its ancestral sky; ageless as the determined tracks of badger clans, of deer and fox, of age old drovers minding sheep.
It’s not solely the erection of turbines corrupting the landscape and countryside steeped in our history, our traditions, our culture and our heritage that is the question but the complex and multi-layered environment which is unavoidably devastated.
Why would we ever wish to gash and lacerate this ancient ground laying in roads and cables to mount 20 atrocious and scandalous 125-metre turbines that without any shadow of a doubt would dominate smother and unbalance the area. It is disgraceful and reprehensible.
Of course and undeniably our energy needs and our ability to deliver adequate supplies for the country’s requirements in future years is a serious and worrying problem but wind power is targeted to produce a mere 15 per cent by 2020 of which we are currently producing a miserable three per cent according to government figures.
Absurdly, wind farm owners are being paid huge amounts of our money to shut down because their output cannot be collected, we simply do not have the infrastructure to fully deliver the energy developed from these turbines to the national grid. Vast pylons will have to be erected across the countryside to effectively manage their production.
Where will it end? The 20 turbines proposed for the Hermitage Castle area are a dismally insignificant contribution to the UK target. Industry Secretary John Hutton, whilst promoting wind power, has also indicated that by 2020, Britain could have 10 new nuclear power stations – EDF Energy’s plans are presently to install two new reactors at the Hinkley Point power station in Somerset.
The wind turbine is clearly only a small part of the solution, not the whole solution. A balance has to be attained that will respect and consider one type of conservation against another. Our history and our heritage are also our future and we have a duty to preserve and to safeguard that legacy for our children.
The balance is clearly that the Hermiston Castle area should remain as it was in 1240 when the castle was built; left alone in its ancient and natural state.
An odd word, “state” – I believe Hermiston Castle is owned by the state under the protection of Historic Scotland. To quote from its web site “Historic Scotland is charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment and promoting its understanding and enjoyment on behalf of Scottish ministers.”
The castle appears to have been conveyed to Historic Scotland in 1930 – where it was “handed over to the care of the Scottish nation”. I am unaware of that department coming off the barbed fence called politics to offer its support to the Hermitage Action Group.