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?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Guru Careers: Account Executive

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Software Engineer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer i...

Reach Volunteering: Volunteer Trustee with Healthcare expertise

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...

Reach Volunteering: Volunteer Trustee with Management, Communications and Fundraising

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...

Day In a Page

Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith
Can Dubai's Design District 'hipster village' attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?

Hipsters of Arabia

Can Dubai’s ‘creative village’ attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?
The cult of Roger Federer: What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?

The cult of Roger Federer

What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?
Kuala Lumpur's street food: Not a 'scene', more a way of life

Malaysian munchies

With new flights, the amazing street food of Kuala Lumpur just got more accessible
10 best festival beauty

Mud guards: 10 best festival beauty

Whether you're off to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or a local music event, we've found the products to help you
Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe

A Different League

Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe, says Pete Jenson
Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey - Steve Bunce

Steve Bunce on Boxing

Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf