Scottish Natural Heritage claims a proposed windfarm at an Easter Ross beauty spot would pose no danger to internationally important bird sites.
The government body had previously objected to the proposal by London-based energy company Falck Renewables for a five-turbine windfarm on the Hill of Nigg due to insufficient information to assess the impact on the sites.
The turbines would stand at the mouth of the Cromarty Firth near to sites on the firth and at Loch Eye which are important for wintering migratory geese and whooper swans and are protected under European and UK law.
Following further fieldwork carried out by the developer, Scottish Natural Heritage has withdrawn its objection to the proposals.
SNH east Highland area manager Steve North said: “The additional fieldwork carried out by Falck Renewables has provided the data to show that these important bird populations would not be seriously affected by the windfarm.”
He added: “While we accept there would still be landscape impacts, we have advised that these could be partly addressed by reducing the height of the proposed turbines.”
The turbines are proposed to be 410ft high which has attracted substantial complaints from the local community.
The windfarm has attracted about 600 objections and 50 representations in support.
The development will generate 10MW of electricity and cost up to £10million.
Among the objectors are John and Eveline Waring, who said that building turbines on the hill would destroy the beauty and tranquility which attracts so many visitors to the area and could also affect flocks of geese and ducks that migrate through the area.
Mrs Waring, of the Old Post Office, Pitcalnie, said yesterday she was dismayed at SNH’s attitude.
She said: “There are birds that fly over the hill, and swans fly quite low and could be struck by the rotors. There are also osprey flying in the area, and nesting in the Seaboard area. They have been seen near our garden.
“SNH seems to be saying it is all for protecting birds and wildlife but this seems contradictory. There is even a bird watching site at Nigg.”
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