Wind farm plans - 'Renewables are the future of energy'

THERE is always a lot of hot air generated whenever the subject of wind farms is raised, and while we would hate to add to it, the decision to create a massive offshore wind farm in the Forth Estuary cannot pass without comment.

The farm would be 30 kilometres from Dunbar, would cost between 1.2 and 1.5 billion to build, and would produce a maximum of 450 megawatts - if the wind blows in the right direction at the right time.

While the benefits of wind power are still being debated, there is no doubt that renewables are the future of energy, given government targets on carbon emission reductions.

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But some simple questions still have to be answered. Just what will the impact of 75 giant windmills be on the beautiful sea views?

The benefits to the Lothians economy also remain unclear. There's been no decision on whether Dunbar Harbour, for instance, will be used by boats maintaining the wind turbines.

We know the ageing Torness Power Station won't see a new lease of life through the renewable technology as technical issues prevent it from being connected to the National Grid there.

There's also been no firm deal on where the huge machines will be built, although thankfully Leith is apparently in poll position.

Of course, there are also the usual issues about the impact of offshore wind farms on the marine environment, but at least Mainstream Renewable Power is doing the groundwork with a massive survey of the local ecology. The firm wants to start building in 2015 - it has a lot of questions to answer in the meantime.

Change in the air

the winds of change meanwhile are already starting to sweep through the City Chambers ahead of next May's local elections.

Two of the highest profile members of the current administration - education leader Marilyne MacLaren and finance leader Phil Wheeler, a former transport convener - will not stand for re-election after being the public faces of the city's school closure plans and the trams project respectively.

But perhaps the most intriguing change so far is council leader Jenny Dawe's decision to gamble on switching seats from Drum Brae/Gyle where she has long-standing and strong personal support for the supposedly "safer" Meadows and Morningside ward.

One way or another there is guaranteed to be a new look to the city council come next May.