One of the few remaining wooden bridges still carrying a UK main railway line could be set to have a giant wind turbine adjacent to it.
Scotland as you probably know isn’t exactly the flattest part of the UK and as such, has more than its fair share of railway viaducts from the globally recognised Forth Bridge to lesser known but no less grand structures such as the now disused Spey Viaduct near Elgin. They are so fundamental to Scotland’s economic heritage that the Glenfinnan Viaduct, immortalised in the Harry Potter film, is on the back of the £10 note.
At the other end of the scale, there are plenty of lesser structures that deserve recognition but none more so than the Altnaslanach Viaduct near Moy. This is not a household name and probably never will be but nevertheless, it is part of our heritage as it is thought to be the only remaining wooden railway bridge still in service on a British mainline. In other words, it is unique; fully deserving its Grade A status.
Built in 1887, timber was used due to the nature of the terrain dictating a lightweight structure. Due to severe fungal decay, work was carried out in 2003 by Carillion to preserve the structure with existing timbers being treated where possible and replaced as necessary. A steel superstructure was sympathetically integrated to provide additional support.
Recognising the high standard of preservation work carried out, the Moy Viaduct won the Small Civil Engineering project Award in the 2004 British Construction Awards and also received a Saltire Society Award Conservation Commendation from the Institute of Civil Engineers.
With so much effort put into preserving the bridge it doesn’t seem unreasonable to preserve the largely unspoilt landscape that surrounds Moy Viaduct. Recently though a planning application has been made by West Coast Energy to construct 13 115m high turbines on Meall Mor and Beinn a Bheurlaich, a set of hills that form part of the backdrop to the bridge, details of which can be found here .
Being set for the most part near the top of these hills which are 2km away, many of the turbines will be clearly visible from the viaduct and dominate the view for those travelling North on the train.
Whilst it is not the author’s place to comment on these structures or the renewable energy debate as a whole, I feel I can suggest that some windfarm locations are more sympathetic to their surroundings than others. For me, forming the backdrop to a Grade A listed Victorian structure does not strike me as being particularly sympathetic, but that is just my view.
If anyone wishes to voice an opinion either way then this can be done by either posting a comment on the Highland Council eplanning web page for this application here, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing to the address below. The reference to quote is 12/00036/FUL and the closing date for comments is February 17th 2012.
Eplanning Planning Centre
The Highland Council
If you ever get the opportunity, the viaduct is certainly worth making a detour to visit.