One of Britain’s richest men yesterday won a long-running battle with a millionaire neighbour over a wind farm on his sprawling Highland estate.
Scottish ministers approved controversial plans for 33 turbines on the 13,000-acre Dunmaglass Estate, near Loch Ness, which is owned by tycoon Sir Jack Hayward.
The development has been fiercely opposed by Swedish philanthropist Sigrid Rausing, who owns the neighbouring Coignafearn estate.
Conservation bodies and the Cairngorms National Park Authority also objected to the £100million scheme, with concerns over the impact on natural habitats and wildlife in the area, such as golden eagles.
But the Government yesterday backed the wind farm, saying it would be able to supply enough electricity for 46,000 homes – more than double the number in Inverness.
Energy Minister Jim Mather said: “Scotland already gets over a quarter of its electricity needs from green sources and consent for this new development rounds off another tremendous year for renewables.”
Renewable Energy Systems (RES) applied for consent to build and operate the wind farm five years ago. Ms Rausing, the youngest daughter of TetraPak billionaire Hans Rausing, was among those who campaigned against the development.
Speaking in 2005 she said: “The application to construct what amounts to a vast industrial site in one of the wildest and most beautiful areas in Scotland is scandalous.” But in response, Bahamas-based Sir Jack, who is worth around £180million and formerly owned Wolverhampton Wanderers football club, rejected claims that wildlife would be affected.
He said he had always been an enthusiast of renewable energy, adding: “I have long been worried about the world’s reliance on oil.” The John Muir Trust (JMT) also criticised the project as an example of the “creeping industrialisation” around the Cairngorms.
Although a total of 1,556 people registered objections to the project, Highland Council gave its support and the application was passed to the Government, which has now approved the project.
Around 55 jobs will be created with the construction of the wind farm and the developers agreed to fund the upgrade of a local road and fund a nature conservation management plan.
RES head of development in Scotland, Allan Johnston, said: “Dunmaglass is an ideal location for a wind farm and has no landscape or ecological designations, which is why after careful consideration it has been approved. Harnessing the wind is an efficient way to supply clean energy for people living in the UK.”
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