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Allt Duine Windfarm Analysis

We’ve recently become aware of a large windfarm planned for a site called Allt Duine in the Monadhliath above Kincraig near Aviemore. The plans are apparently for 31 turbines each upto 125m high above land (to the top of the blade tip). The site is immediately adjacent to the boundary of the Cairngorm National Park and in an area of wild moorland. After reading about the planned site at http://www.savemonadhliathmountains.com/ we decided to take a look at drawing up some maps of the Allt Duine site and its surroundings and carrying out some GIS analysis on the possible visual impact of the turbines.

Small versions of 4 static jpeg maps are shown below which illustrate the location of the Allt Duine site, and highlight key features that became apparent from the GIS visual impact analysis carried out. These small versions link to moderate resolution versions which will provide good viewing and adequate printing. Higher resolution versions for higher quality use can be accessed using the links at the end of this article.

These maps are copyright Scotland-Landscapes.com, however we allow the distribution and non commercial use of these maps, as is, without alteration, subject to acknowledgement of Scotland-Landscapes.com. A description of the GIS analysis carried out is presented beneath the maps for those interested.

Allt Duine Windfarm - Location Map

Allt Duine Windfarm - Location Map

Allt Duine windfarm site immediately adjacent to the boundary of the Cairngorm National Park in wild moorland above Kincraig, Strathspey. 31 turbines each 125m high planned.
Allt Duine Windfarm - Key Features - Site

Allt Duine Windfarm - Key Features - Site Area

Allt Duine planned site consists of 4000 hectares cunningly located over the initial crest of the Monadhliath hills out of site of the main Strathspey valley, just a few kilometres east north east of two of the Monadhliath Munros, A’ Chailleach and Carn Sgulain. The entire turbine heights will be visible from these Munros.

Allt Duine Windfarm - Key Features - Cairngorms Visual Impact

Allt Duine Windfarm - Key Features - Cairngorms Visual Impact

A visual impact analysis indicates a massive impact on the summits of the Cairngorm National Park, the Northern Corries, and the lower slopes of Rothiemurchus and Glen Feshie. The full heights of the turbines will be visible from the country’s 2nd, 3rd and 6th highest summits. Munro summits to be severely impacted include Cairngorm, Ben Macdui, Braeriach, Bynack More, Sgor Gaoith and Mullach Clach a’ Bhlair.

Allt Duine Windfarm - Key Features - Distant Features Visual Impact Analysis

Allt Duine Windfarm - Key Features - Distant Features Visual Impact Analysis

The visual impact analysis was carried out to a distance of 100km around the Allt Duine site. It is quite possible for views from high summits to extend to this distance on high clarity days. The analysis indicates a severe impact on remote Munros and elevated areas in the vicinity of Blair Atholl, Dalwhinnie, Loch Ericht and Loch Laggan, with some of the areas most remote Munro’s in wild areas being impacted by turbine views . Such Munros include Carn an Fhidhleir, Beinn Dearg, Ben Alder and Aonach Beag. Moors in the Moy, Slochd and Grantown areas will be severly impacted by the Allt Duine development. Its likely that views from some of these locations are already blighted by existing developments.

Furthermore, the analysis highlights the potential impact on distant hills. The analysis indicates that the turbines will be visible on high clarity days from some of Scotland’s most remote Munros such as those in the Fisherfield and Fannichs ranges and from the southern Highland’s including Munro’s such as Ben More and Ben Lui. Certain low lying areas of Easter Ross and the Black Isle will also be impacted.

Should you wish to join the campaign against this inappropriate industrial site in the heart of Scotland’s prize asset, its beautiful landscape, then you can sign the petition against it at: http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/savemonadhliath.

Higher quality jpeg maps for printing are available using the links below. These maps are copyright Scotland-Landscapes.com, however we allow the distribution and non commercial use of these maps, as is, without alteration, subject to acknowledgement of Scotland-Landscapes.com. A description of the GIS analysis carried out is presented beneath the maps for those interested.

1. Location Map

2. Windfarm Site – Key Features

3. Cairngorms Visual Impact Analysis – Key Features

4. Distant Visual Impact Analysis – Key Features

There is also an interactive map illustrating the results of this analysis at http://www.scotland-landscapes.com/maps/allt-duine-windfarm-map/.


Description of GIS Analysis

These maps contain the planned locations of the Allt Duine Windfarm turbines and an analysis of their visual impact across the Scottish Highlands. An analysis of the windfarms visibility within a 100km radius (quite possible on a clear day) is presented based on planned turbine heights. Analyses were carried out using a number of different turbine heights to assess how much of the turbines would be visible from the surrounding area:

  • Total height planned 125m above ground (max height – tip of blades)
  • Turbine hub height estimated at 85m above ground
  • Blade minimum height estimated at 45m above ground
  • An effective base of turbine height of 10m above ground

The analysis was based on the OS Opendata available Ordnance Survey Landform Panorama 50m spaced topographic dataset for the UK and was carried out at a topographic raster surface resolution of 250x250m (250m squares given the max elevation value of the OS Landform Panorama 25 input cells), with points of observation being the turbine locations with heights above the OS Landform Panorama surface.

Due to the number of shapefile features limit in ArcGIS.com map viewer (1000), and for performance in general, the analysis results resolution was reduced to 2km squares (this means that where a 2km square is noted as having visibility of the turbines at least one of the original 250m square cells had visibility).

In order to display this information in ArcGIS.com the 2km cell values were converted to a series of 2km spaced points. Locations with no visibility of turbines were excluded and the points with visibilty converted to a shapefile for loading to ArcGIS.com.

A further analysis of Munro Summits (Scottish mountains over 3000ft or 914.4m) was carried out to determine the potential impact on the views from Scotland’s highest mountains. Visibility data from the surfaces created during the first part of the analysis were exported to a point file of Munro Summits enabling categorisation of the Munros according to turbine visibility.

Maps and analyses created in good faith by Scotland-Landscapes.com. We cannot guarantee the absolute accuracy of this information and accept no liability whatsoever for any use of this information.

Jason Bonniface 11/09/2011

All content is copyright Scotland-Landscapes.com


Permanent link to this article: http://www.scotland-landscapes.com/allt-duine-analysis/


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  1. Marina

    You have really interesting blog, keep up posting such informative posts!

  2. Thank you for your comments and taking the time to read the article. I hope it can at least add some pressure against this highly inapproriate development. Cheers Jason

  3. Dr Andrew Highton

    I would like yo to be aware of my serious concerns with regard to the chapter in the EIA on the geology of the site. Having been responsible for the production of the 1:50,000 scale map of that area while I was a senior geoscientist with the British Geological Survey, I was rather taken aback by what was written in this chapter. As it was my mapping that that the authors of the ES have consulted and allegedly refer to. It is a concern that they only refer to the published 1:50, 000 scale map, which is merely a distillation of the information contained in the BGS archives and does not present all the information available. For this, the authors should have referred to the more detailed 1:10 000 scale maps. This is an observation that I could make for all windfarm environmental statements that I have seen over the last number of years. In fact the geology chapters in many ES’s are weak and often show, as here, little understanding of the bedrock or superficial geology.
    In section 6.41 only peat slide and faulting has been assessed in terms of site stability and the impact as being low. However, there is no mention in the ES of the deep weathering in the bedrock, particularly where the site les within the boundaries of the Monadhliath granitic intrusion. The weathering profile locally can be in the order of several tens of metres in thickness. This has significant effects on the hydrogeology of that part of the site. There are numerous examples of catastrophic erosion of the bedrock and bedrock failure in this area relating to periods of high and intense rainfall. This is a significant impact with the risk being moderate to high as it is likely to compromise the foundations on which the turbines will be placed.
    This is also a concern in terms of slope stability, but is not assessed in section 6.42.
    Deep weathering of bedrock is not only an issue here, but also affects a large tracts of the Central Highlands and the Cairngorms. I have great concerns about an existing site at Farr, and the site at Dunmaglas that has recently been approved for development. In both cases I am await bedrock failure!
    The sentence in section 6.51 of the ‘Conclusions’ states that the ‘bedrock geology is not deemed to be particularly unusual or have any significant value in geological terms’. My comment is that this area is one of the most important areas in the Scottish Highlands for its geological significance. This clearly shows that the authors have poor knowledge of the geology of this area. A’Bhuidheanaich is one of the critical areas in the Central Highlands to understanding the evolution of Highland geology. It has been, and continues to be, extensively studied. Several scientific papers have been written about this area, which remains a key locality for scientific debate. It’s is also crucial to the adjacent An Suidhe Geological Conservation Review site, which is not mentioned in the ES.
    The area of Cnoc Fraing is scientifically important site in the study of the evolution of the Monadhliath granitic pluton. A PhD thesis and several scientific papers have been written on the Monadhliath pluton, with particular reference to this area. It’s study has been key in the international study of the late crystallisation processes and the interaction of magmatic fluids in granitic plutons. There are exemplary examples of pegmatite development that contain semi-precious minerals. The area is also a source of the smoky quartz mineral Cairngorm. This is an important area of scientific study, that will be either destroyed or made no longer available for study.
    This area was subject to several earth tremors in the mid to late 1990’s of magnitude 2.7 (1995) and 2.2 (1999). Again this is not referred to in the ES and an assessment of this hazard made. Given the parlous nature of the bedrock conditions over large tracts of this site, this is a key feature that needs to be address in an EIA. If another seismic event should take place, are these turbines designed to withstand seismic events?

    As all the impacts present within the site have not been addressed the Conclusions sections 6.49 to 6.52 are flawed.

    Yet again the consultancies that produce these ES’s show little understanding of the geology. They generally import selected maps from the BGS website and are generally unable to interpret them. Background research is generally poor. I suspect because the landscape companies that often produce these documents do not have qualifeid geologists on their staff. Most geology sections in wind farm ES’s are of poor quality, but no one picks up on this ad is rarley an issue raised in objections are at public enquiries.

  1. Allt Duine Windfarm – A Critical Analysis | windfarmaction

    […] have been pointed to a brilliant web site by (click here)Scotland-landscapes,com  which defines the areas affected by the Allt Duine Wind Farm on the very borders of the Cairngorm […]

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