Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Tigh na Cailliche, Glen Lyon, under threat

UPDATE: At the present time, the planning application has been withdrawn. Please see this post here, and this one as well for more information.

This is not good. Not good at all if the initial report I've seen is true.

In the past few articles I've put up on the site I've made mention of Tigh na Cailliche - also known as Tigh nam Bodach - which is a site in Glen Lyon, Perthshire. This is a shrine nestled away in Gleann Cailliche; every year three stones, roughly shaped in human forms, which are known as the Cailleach, the Bodach and the Nighean, are taken out of their 'house' or shrine at Bealltainn, and then returned to their home for safekeeping over the winter at Samhainn. It's said that so long as the rite is observed faithfully each year, the area will prosper under the auspices of the Cailleach, who is said to have once lived there. So grateful was she for the hospitality given to her by the locals, she asked them to look after the shrine and faithfully carry out the ritual each Bealltainn and Samhainn, and she would make sure the crops would never fail, and the weather would always be favourable.

Nobody knows for sure how old the tradition is, but it's something that's an integral part of the area's heritage and history. It's just been brought to my attention on a forum I lurk on that the area is now under threat after an application for a hydro scheme has been lodged:

Planning permission was recently lodged for four hydro electric schemes that will forever transform the Gleann Cailliche and the surrounding landscape. Existing tracks will be upgraded to take heavy traffic. Power houses will be constructed, borrow pits dug and fresh tracks will be carved into the steeply sided slopes to weirs. An overhead power line will be run past the Tigh nam Bodach and down the side of Loch Lyon.

It's unclear how the shrine might be otherwise affected, but understandably the locals are worried about its potential impact on the area, and there are other issues to consider as well - especially as far as some of the rare habitats that can be found there are concerned. This site here takes you on a tour of the area, so you can see what it's like.

As the article I've linked to says, renewable energy schemes are always a good thing, but one has to question if this is the right place for it (putting it mildly, I think). These areas of natural beauty, rare habitats, and such historical traditions that are a part of Scotland's heritage should not have to be compromised or blighted by power lines for the sake of money. Because really, I think that's what it boils down to (but then, some might say I'm a cynic).

I sincerely hope the application will be considered carefully and objectively, and that the right decision will be made in the end. The link above, to the Glenlyon History Society, gives an email address if you want to lodge your concerns or ask for more information.

ETA: There's information here on planning policies for National Scenic Areas like Glen Lyon, which should be protected from inappropriate and intrusive developments, and there's a link on the page to a pdf study of the Loch Rannoch and Glen Lyon area that specifically raises concerns about developments like hydro-electric schemes in the area.

ETA2: See also the Facebook Group.


Anonymous said...

This is an ominous threat, indeed. How anyone could consider a monstrous hydro-electric plant a fair trade for their own priceless history; I have to shake my head in wonder and sadness. I'll provide a link to this and try to get the word out, as best I can. They REALLY don't want to piss Ár Máthair, off!

Treasa said...

Gosh this saddens me. I'm all for renewable and green energy as well but not at the price of losing sites such as this. This, to me, negates renewable energy which I see as a way to preserve the beauty of the land by trying our best to live in harmony with it.

I will be passing the info on and I hope people band together to save this site like they have for sites in Ireland.

Tairis said...

Thanks both.

I'm not sure the site itself will be destroyed, more compromised by the developments around it. Certainly I don't see how overhead power cables, at the very least, can be considered harmonious. I'm trying to find more information.

Anonymous said...

I started a Facebook group, hoping to bring awareness to this issue. Let's hope it takes off and can get the "industrial machine" to pause for thought, at least?

Saigh said...

Oh, no! I agree with Treasa, there is something just twisted about this whole corporate "renewable energy" concept which is doing far more harm than good and is NOT the way we should be approaching things. Yeah, just those powerlines alone, something I'm facing the possibility of going right by me, are dangerously disruptive, along with the poisons used to keep the area clear. Not to mention the native peoples and wildlife displaced to put in the hyrdro plant those are coming from.

These are not positive steps, they need to be curtailed. We could be solving our energy problems but we have to find a way to wrench control from the greedy, destructive machines.

nefaeria said...

It really blows my mind how anyone could consider desecrating such a site. Whether one sees it as sacred or "just" sensitive, it would be a move of folly. I do hope that the outcome is the best one!

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Tairis said...

@kelledia, thanks! Every little helps, I think, and if people want to voice their concerns with the planners then that would be great.

Whether one sees it as sacred or "just" sensitive, it would be a move of folly.

I think this is what it boils down to, nefaeria, and well put.

Ancestral Celt said...

I'm afraid I don't understand the need for overhead power cables, especially when we have huge cables under the sea, so why not underground? I don't mind wind turbines (honestly) as there is a certain simplistic beaty to them, but long power cables stretching for miles are an eyesore.

It saddens me that so much of our heritage is being comprised and/or lost because of the energy business. If we are so concerned about our environment, why not consider the historical aspects and natural habitats and try to achieve more of that elusive balance?

Tairis said...

Hi Ancestral Celt,

My assumption was cost and maintenance issues, as far as the cables were concerned, but I've downloaded a number of the proposals that have been submitted for the scheme and it says:

"The connection to the national electricity grid will be located to the south-east of Lubreoch Dam, at OSGR NN453415. This will be located adjacent to the existing 33kV overhead spur to Lubreoch Dam power station. An 11kV to 33kV transformer and associated equipment will be installed at the grid connection point. This will be located near to the existing track and existing overhead powerlines.

An internal 11kV distribution network will be established between the powerhouse and the grid connection point. Buried cables are physically impractical on sections crossing Glen Lyon and the River Lyon, and along the northern shore of Loch Lyon, due to the steep terrain and cross-slopes. The proposed distribution network will be an overhead line with three conductors, supported on wooden poles typically 8m high and 0.3m diameter."

mama p said...

...what's that word you taught me? Oh, yes. Now I remember:


I agree with Treasa: what is green energy, if not a means to preserve the beauty of the land, our heritage and birthright? So very sad. I'll keep and eye on it...

Tairis said...

LOL, this is the first thing I saw of a morning, with coffee in one hand and the desperate hope of feeling human in the gave me a good giggle.

I wish I'd thought to go over the comments before I wrote in, because that's a good point I completely forgot about.