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Another bite at our wild land

Wednesday 30th August 2017, 4:06pm

Mountaineering Scotland is calling for absolute protection for wild land in planning policy following the outcome of a judicial review which upheld Ministerial approval for a wind farm which encroaches on a wild land area in one of Scotland’s most valued landscapes.

Views from iconic northern mountains such as Ben Loyal, Foinaven, Arkle, Ben Klibreck and Scotland’s most northerly Munro, Ben Hope, will be impacted by the 22-turbine Creag Riabhach wind farm, with five of the turbines actually standing within a wild land area.

In October last year Scottish Ministers gave permission for the development to go ahead, but Danish businessman and landowner Anders Povlsen, whose Wildland Ltd owns the neighbouring Ben Loyal, Kinloch and Hope & Melness estates, raised a judicial review to examine the decision in favour of the wind farm, on the Altnaharra Estate.

Lord Boyd of Duncansby, today found against Wildland Ltd's position, saying it was not for the court to judge whether wind farms should be allowed on designated wild land areas, but to assess whether Scottish Ministers had acted properly with respect to existing policy.

Mountaineering Scotland CEO David Gibson said “While we respect the decision of the court, the decision of the Minister to approve this wind farm will render an extraordinary, world-renowned, wild and open landscape completely ordinary.

“This outcome emphasises why the Scottish Government must change its present policy. Wild land areas must get the same absolute protection as National Scenic Areas and National Parks. Time is running out for Scotland’s most precious natural asset – its landscape - as more and more wild land is eroded by development.

“The irony is that there is no need for the Creag Riabhach development – there is already enough operational and consented capacity to meet the Scottish Government’s generation target.”