Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Village fishing industry at risk from renewables drive, MEP warns

Centuries-old village fishing communities in Fife are under direct threat from the Scottish Government’s obsession with grandiose off-shore renewables developments. That is the warning that Scottish Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson will give to a town hall meeting in St Andrews this Thursday that is set to bring together opposition to wind farm developments from throughout Scotland.

Struan Stevenson, who is Vice-President of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee, is the keynote speaker at the event organised by Cameron Community Council to raise awareness of the current flood of large wind energy developments currently facing Fife communities. He will explain that the destructive impact of off-shore turbine developments on marine habitats is huge and that affected species, and fishermen whose livelihoods depend on them, will become another forgotten element of the SNP's mad-dash for wind power.

He will highlight the plight of fishermen in Holderness in Yorkshire. Consent has recently been given to Danish company Dong Energy for the construction of a 35 square km wind farm at Westermost Rough, one of the most important parts of the Holderness Coast fishery. The rocky substrate, with plenty of small boulders and crevices provides a near-perfect, but highly sensitive habitat for lobsters. This habitat faces complete destruction, while Holderness fishermen will only be able to fish the area with permission from Danish company, Dong Energy.

Speaking ahead of the event, Struan Stevenson MEP commented:

“The Scottish Government’s current plan for the footprint of off-shore wind farms looks set to cover vast areas that are of huge significance to traditional inshore fishermen in fragile Fife. Fishermen in communities like Pittenweem will be taking anxious notice of the plight facing the industry in Holderness. To see the areas they and their ancestors have fished for centuries sold to foreign energy companies, and to have to ask permission from a Danish company to use the remnants, will be too much to bear for many.

“Scientific evidence suggests that the noise and vibration created by the installation and operation of off-shore turbines is devastating for marine life and seabed habitats. Driving the huge foundation piles deep into the seabed creates sound pressure levels that seriously damage the hearing systems of marine mammals and fish. Displaced sediment can also wreck vast areas of seabed for fishing.

“The SNP government simply haven't thought this through. Why are they going to ruin areas that have been fished for hundreds of years in order to build wind turbines that will last 20 at a push? Why are they going to ruin the fragile village fishing industries of the East Neuk, which add immeasurably to the local economies and cultural heritage of Fife? And all of this in pursuit of a technology that is unreliable and inefficient.”

Among other attendees at the St Andrews event are expected to be key representatives of Trump International Developments, protesting against plans for a huge off-shore array within sight of the proposed golf resort at the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire.

Commenting, Struan Stevenson said:

“Donald Trump’s representatives are right to come along to St Andrews to compare notes on how best to face down the wind farm developers and the Scottish Government. The meeting will welcome any expression of solidarity with the growing numbers in Scotland determined to face down the threat wind farms pose to our unique communities and scenery.”

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