March 30, 2010

Warning over impact of Monadhliath windfarm

The Press and Journal, 30 March 2010

The landowner whose Highland estate abuts moorland earmarked for a 33-turbine windfarm claimed yesterday the proposals would turn “a fragile wilderness into an industrial site”.

Renewable Energy Systems (RES) wants to put up the turbines, each with a maximum tip height of 396ft, on land at Dunmaglass estate, four miles east of Loch Mhor in the Monadhliath.

Highland councillors voted last week not to object to the firm’s plans, which will ultimately be decided by the Scottish Government.

Sigrid Rausing, the owner of the neighbouring Coignafearn estate, yesterday condemned the decision, warning the “vast structures will be a testament to our folly of allowing landowners and corporations to exploit the public impulse to protect the environment”.

RES hit back last night, with development director Rachel Ruffle describing Dunmaglass as an “ideal location for a windfarm” that would generate enough electricity to power 40,000 homes.

Ms Rausing said: “This part of the Monadhliath has high ecological sensitivity, with abundant blanket bog and a suite of birds protected by European law. This proposal is neither green nor sustainable. It is economically unviable without substantial government subsidies.

“The wind turbines have a limited life span of about 20 years and the energy costs of construction and transport, including removal of the turbines after they become defunct, are significant. If you add to that problems of soil erosion, the CO released in the digging up of the peat and the threat to bird life, it would be hard to call this policy green.”

Ms Rausing, the youngest daughter of Tetra Pak billionaire Hans Rausing, also claimed the scheme was in breach of the council’s own renewable energy strategy.

She added: “There is no proper explanation as to why Highland Council have now disregarded their policy position and are sanctioning a major development in this location.”

Ms Ruffle said: “Dunmaglass is an ideal location for a windfarm, which is why after careful consideration it was recommended for approval by the planning officer and supported by councillors. The site has no landscape or ecological designations.

“In the UK there have been no known collisions between eagles and wind turbines.”

She said: “The windfarm will also bring economic and social benefits. Local residents will benefit from the upgrading of sections of the B851 and a community fund will be split between Strathnairn, Strathdearn and Stratherrick community councils.”

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