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Two mountain wind farms rejected

Tuesday 1st May 2018, 2:26pm

Mountaineering Scotland has welcomed news that two major wind farms which we opposed have been refused consent following public inquiries.

An application for a 20-turbine development at Caplich in Sutherland, by Muirhall Energy, was turned down after a Public Local Inquiry, which found that the proposed wind farm would cause “significant harm” to two Wild Land Areas.

And a separate inquiry into an appeal against Highland Council’s refusal of a 13-turbine development at Culachy, near For Augustus, held that it would compromise another Wild Land Area and was not “the right development in the right place.”

Mountaineering Scotland volunteer Dave Gordon (formerly Director for Landscape and Planning) had spent over a week attending the two inquiries, presenting our evidence and arguments why the developments should not go ahead.

At Culachy, where RES Ltd had applied for 13 wind turbines on rolling moorland above the historic Wade road over the Corrieyairick Pass between the Great Glen and Strathspey, Mountaineering Scotland argued that not only was it within a Wild Land Area, but it was also in a popular area for walking, with historic resonance, and to build a wind farm there would have severe landscape and visual impacts, diminishing the resource for local tourism and recreation.

Regarding the Muirhall Energy proposal for Caplich, we said the proposal was of a scale entirely unsuitable for the location and turbines would be visible from the Assynt mountains, so damaging their tourism potential.

Mountaineering Scotland’s Chief Executive Officer Stuart Younie said he was pleased with the decisions. He said: “We act in the interests of our members in these matters, so it’s particularly good to see this result.

“I’d like to pay tribute to the expertise of Dave Gordon and the time and commitment he has devoted to these and so many other issues.”

The decisions were also praised by Andrew Bachell, Chief Executive of the John Muir Trust, who said: “We are pleased that the Scottish Government is sending out a strong message that our wild and scenic places are of national importance.

“Since the Wild Land Areas map was approved in 2014, ten wind farms with a total of nearly 200 turbines have been refused because of their impact on these landscapes and ecosystems.

”We would hope that these latest decisions will help persuade developers to focus their efforts on less sensitive areas.”