Positive news from Scotland where yesterday Highland councillors rejected the planning application to erect 31 wind turbines at Allt Duine on the edge of the Cairngorm National Park by nine votes to three.
The BBC reports that the councillors used the Cairngorm funicular railway to help them assess the potential visual impact of the proposed wind farm – somewhat ironic in itself given the hostility of some to the funicular.
The decision means that the application will now go to a Public Inquiry held by the Scottish Government and in the words of outdoor writer Ed Douglas, ‘is a battle won, rather than the war’.
Public Inquiry Next
The development can still go ahead, but the Inquiry will at least provide an forum for formal objections from influential bodies including the Cairngorms National Park Authority, the John Muir Trust, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, Scottish Campaign for National Parks and key local estates.
The Highland Council’s Planning Application Committee’s decision has been welcomed by opponents to the plan, including the Save the Monadhliath Mountains (SMM) campaign, but SMM spokesperson Chris Townsend is keen to stress that yesterday’s decision is just a start:
“After months of tireless campaigning and securing large scale public support, we’re pleased that the Highland Council Area planning committee has objected to the Allt Duine wind farm proposal.
“A huge amount of Scottish natural heritage is at stake and it is crucial that the proposal is assessed thoroughly. The only way to guarantee a meticulous assessment is for the application to be heard at a full Public Inquiry undertaken by the Scottish Government.
“Despite today’s formal objection, this is only the beginning of a long process and we will carry on working with our membership to protect this area of unspoilt natural beauty.”
Bodies Welcomes Decision
The decision was also welcomed by the John Muir Trust, the UK’s leading land conservation charity, : “This is a sensible decision by the council which demonstrates an appetite for protecting wild land within the region. We’re pleased that the application will now have to face a full public local inquiry, which is vital to fully determine its impacts.
“If approved this 31 turbine development would have a devastating effect on the Monadhliath Mountains, an important area of wild land.”
Another organisation to put its weight behind the campaigh against the project is the Mountaineering Council of Scotland which comments:
‘The MCofS believes that local democracy has made its views clear and trusts Scottish Ministers will listen to the views of the elected representatives and follow their lead by rejecting the application.’
So, in a nutshell, the campaign is still ongoing. More information at www.savemonadhliathmountains.com where you can register your support for the campaign.