In the nineteenth century wind power was the means of propulsion for the vast fleet of herring drifters that converged on Wick for the summer herring fishing. The age of steam followed, then less romantically, petrol and diesel continued our reliance on fossil fuels. Nuclear energy seemed to fill the gap for a period but has waned in the face of public scepticism and the resulting political cold feet. As fossil fuels become environmentally unacceptable and scarce, wind once again moves into the frame as an energy source, with tide following on behind. Caithness is particularly well placed for both with its windy moors and tidal coastline.
Love them or hate them on land or sea they are here to stay at least for a generation or perhaps forever if the scientists don't deliver the Holy Grail that nuclear once promised to be.
A few weeks ago the north quay at Wick harbour was littered with the broken down components of a new wind farm being constructed at Wathegar to the north of Wick. The turbine blades are enormous, much taller than the Zulu mainsails that rode the wind in the nineteenth century. So far, Caithness windfarms operate 48 turbines with a further 87 approved or under construction. 78 Turbines are in the planning process while a further 150-200 are at the scoping stage. Campaigners are clearly concerned about the impact of such a large number of turbines on the landscape of the county.
Of even greater interest is the level of activity being planned at sea off Wick. The turbines being planned are even larger than the onshore ones and will have minimal visual impact, perhaps we'll grow to love them at a distance in the haar. Thanks to the Wick Society for permission to reproduce the Johnston image of Wick in the 1860's.
I wish all my readers a very happy Christmas.
The Stuart Agenda by Alan Calder published by Willow Moon. --Book and paperback from all Amazon sites. Reviews at www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005BJ3GNI