Argyll grandmother takes UK and EU to the United Nations over plans to turn Scotland into windfarm 'hedgehog'

Christine Metcalfe claims UK Government and the EU have breached a fundamental tenet of citizens’ rights under the UN’s Åarhus Convention

A community councillor from Argyll is mounting a landmark legal challenge against the UK and the EU at the United Nations in Geneva this week over their renewables policies, on the grounds that the public is being denied the truth about the alleged benefits, and the adverse impact, of wind power.

Christine Metcalfe, who represents Avich and Kilchrenan Community Council, claims that the UK Government and the EU have breached a fundamental tenet of citizens’ rights under the UN’s Åarhus Convention, and she will appear before the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe to explain why.

Mrs Metcalfe will present her council’s case at a hearing before UNECE’s Compliance Committee next Wednesday alleging that the UK and the EU are pursuing renewables policies which have been designed in such a way that they have denied the public the right to be informed about, or to ascertain, the alleged benefits in reducing CO 2 and harmful pollution emissions from wind power, or the negative effects of wind power on health, the environment and the economy.

In an interview with The Independent, Mrs Metcalfe said: “Our challenge is a democratic one: the UK and EU are by-passing the proper environmental and economic assessments and legally-binding procedures related to democratic accountability. Scotland, she said, is being turned into a ‘hedgehog’ as a result, being covered with more than 3,500 wind turbines without due regard for the growing scientific evidence which shows they have a profoundly damaging effect on the local ecology and on people’s health. “Such devastating changes might be merited if we had the information to enable us to understand the benefits. Many of the supposed claims by government are now proving to be the opposite of what they say.”

 “Instead, the onus should be on the developers to prove the positive. No wind farm developer has ever had to explain the benefits of wind. Evidence tells us that wind power performance shows not only no reduction in CO 2 and other harmful emissions, but the very reverse. But Alex Salmond is driving an aggressive green agenda like an express train across Scotland, bludgeoning anyone who gets in the way as being a Luddite and anti-green.”

Indeed, she claims that Scotland’s renewables strategy – its Routemap 2020, now in its second edition – is a disingenuous and deeply flawed document that was published without public consultation.

Yet Mrs Metcalfe, who is 69, is not a political animal: “I’m not a crusader, I’m not a campaigner but an ordinary person who is fighting for grass-roots democracy. I just want the information t help me understand there this is taking us.” Taking the UK and the EU to the United Nations is not what she expected when she retired to Argyll, with her husband, Peter, from England 22 years ago. Their home is on the edge of Loch Avich, close to Kilmelford, and they were drawn to the area because of their love for the wild scenery. They have access to hundreds of acres of wetlands that are home to otters, Osprey, Sea Eagles and Golden Eagles.

 The catalyst for Mrs Metcalfe and her community council’s decision to launch the UN challenge was their experience of the Carraig Gheal wind farm and problems surrounding the access route – known as the West Loch Awe Timber Haul Route – in the AKCC’s locality; an area of great beauty and a nesting area for Golden Eagles among other rare species.

When the council discovered the wind farm’s access route was being built through an area close to where the eagles nest, it contacted the Forestry Commission, owner of the land and co-developer, for more information about an alternative route. But the FC was unwilling to provide more and the AKCC was forced to send out Freedom of Information notices, claiming the commission had destroyed important documents. “That’s when we decide to hold the authorities to account,” she said.

If the committee upholds the complaint, the UN has the power to require the UK and EU to adhere to its ruling, as they are signatories to the international treaty known as the Åarhus Convention. Legal experts predict that if the tribunal finds in her favour, the decision could have a big impact on all wind farm projects throughout the country, as developers will be forced to make far more comprehensive “benefit statements” with their planning applications, and governments will have to back up claims about the alleged benefits.

More pertinently, Mrs Metcalfe claims that some communities in Scotland are being driven to a state of civil war: “Wind farms are splitting communities and dividing friends. Some land-owners are being so generously rewarded for selling or leasing their land to developers that they are turning a blind-eye to what’s really happening.”  Others, she said, who have the temerity to question the alleged benefits, are being subjected to death threats, insults, and burglaries, right across the country

With her at the tribunal at the UN’s offices at Avenue de la Paix in Geneva will be her counsel,  John Campbell QC, one of Scotland’s leading advocates and a planning expert, and Pat Swords, an Irish chemical engineer and environmentalist, whose own challenge to Ireland’s energy policy was upheld by the UNECE compliance committee earlier this year. He has now called for a judicial review of Ireland’s Renewable Energy Action Plan. Representatives of the UK’s DEFRA and the EU are also expected to attend the hearing.

While Mrs Metcalfe admits to a few nerves about the 1800 km journey to Geneva, she is resolute: “I’m doing this for those who don’t have a voice. The lack of debate, and information about the negative effects of wind power, means that people and the environment in my country are being treated by the government as collateral damage. Whatever the outcome of Geneva, there will be repercussions because the short-comings of the current energy policy, based on the rush for wind, will be exposed.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to get in...

Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

SThree: Recruitment Consultant - IT

£25000 - £30000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking fo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before