A controversial 23-turbine wind farm is to be built at Achany in Sutherland after Scottish and Southern Energy was granted planning permission.
The decision follows a public inquiry into the proposals in August.
Highland Council had originally opposed the £55m wind farm but withdrew its objections as the inquiry concluded.
Construction of the 40 megawatt capacity wind farm will begin in the new year. It is expected to be operational in 2010.
When the Achany development is completed it will bring Scottish and Southern Energy’s (SSE) total wind farm capacity to 275MW.
Ian Marchant, chief executive of SSE, said: “I am pleased that the Achany wind farm has finally received consent, and we will work to ensure that the construction work at the site is carried out efficiently and professionally.
“We will seek to work in partnership with the local community throughout the construction period.
“In the last 15 months, we have had three successes in the wind farm planning process. Nevertheless, it remains much too time-consuming and unpredictable to be an effective means of realising Scotland’s and the UK’s renewable energy requirements.”
Campaigners against the wind farm argued it would have an adverse impact on tourism in a picturesque part of Sutherland.
They were initially backed in their objections by Highland Council – but on the penultimate day of the public inquiry the council admitted its wind farm strategy was incompatible with national legislation.
The strategy, which was approved in May 2006, sought to restrict large wind farms to specific parts of the region.
Scottish Executive inquiry reporter Janet McNair, who conducted the three-and-a-half week inquiry at Lairg Community Centre, has now ruled planning consent should be granted.
The council had rejected SSE’s initial planning application for the wind farm in 2005.
SSE is currently seeking to secure consent for seven other wind farms, with a total capacity of more than 650MW, which are at various stages in the formal planning process.
17 December 2007
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