A conservation charity has condemned the Scottish Government’s approval of plans for a major windfarm that it says could lead to the death of up to 11 golden eagles.
The John Muir Trust said the go-ahead for the 33 turbines in the Monadhliath mountains could set the stage for more such developments in wilderness areas.
The Dunmaglass installation will have 120m-high turbines sited on the northern slopes of Carn Odhar on the mountain range, about 10km from Loch Ness.
The trust had objected to the development because of its impact on both wild land and wildlife.
However, the Scottish Government gave the go-ahead last week.
Helen McDade, head of policy for the John Muir Trust said: “Our vision is that wild land is protected and the wild places are valued by and for everyone. This decision is yet another demonstration of the urgent need for greater protection of wild land.”
“These mountains are entirely unique from other areas of wild land in the UK. The Dunmaglass development could set a precedent for more wind farms to be consented in areas of wild land.
“The scheme will result in unacceptable damage to a large area of relatively unspoilt upland peat land and significant disturbance to rare and protected species. In particular the anticipated death toll of up to eleven golden eagles is considered wholly unacceptable.”
Allan Johnston, head of development for RES in Scotland, the company behind the plans, 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.
“Dunmaglass has been in the planning system for six years and during that time RES has listened to local residents, consultees and stakeholders, taken their comments on board, and modified the proposal where possible to address the concerns raised.
“Harnessing the wind is an efficient, reliable and sustainable way to supply clean energy for people living in the UK. The Dunmaglass Wind Farm will also provide significant local economic and social benefits. Local residents will benefit from the upgrading of sections of the B851 and a community fund split between Strathnairn, Strathdearn and Stratherrick Community Councils.
“RES has also formed a link with prospective Highlands and Islands University to create an engineering scholarship scheme.”
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland also objected to the Dunmaglass scheme.
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