One of the UK’s rarest birds could be in jeopardy if a major windfarm development in a picturesque part of Inverness-shire is given the go-ahead, a public meeting has heard.
About 150 people attended a meeting at Kiltarlity Village Hall to discuss proposals for a 28-turbine windfarm on land between Kiltarlity and Drumnadrochit in the Druim Ba Forest.
The planned 492ft towers would be higher than any other wind turbines in the Highlands.
The packed-out hall heard from local ornithologist Malcolm Harvey that extremely rare small water birds could be affected if plans are approved.
Mr Harvey said two of just 21 pairs of Slavonian grebe in existence in the UK have nested near the proposed site and could potentially be killed by the swirling blades of the turbines.
He said: “The company say they recognise the problem and have implemented plans to ensure birds won’t be flying in the line of the turbines but my personal view is that this is not sufficient. Not enough is going to be done to safeguard this vulnerable species.”
Sir John Lister-Kaye, one of Scotland’s best-known naturalists and conservationists, also spoke out at the meeting, which was organised by Kiltarlity Community Council.
The director of Aigas Field Centre near Beauly, which offers wildlife, nature and history holidays, said the development would impact on the business, which has been established for more than 30 years, employs 25 people and boosts the local economy by £750,000 every year.
Of 1,000 customers he consulted, nearly half said they would not come to the centre if the development went ahead. Farmer Rosemary Duns wanted to know what impact the development would have on her 60-strong cattle herd. She has been running Dhuallan farm for 30 years and would be living 500ft north of the site.
One objector said: “The most important thing is that this is about investors using our landscape, our taxes and our electricity to grossly enrich themselves.
“They will try to sweeten the pill with talk of community benefits and say we will be sloshing with money.
“Every single person in this room will be worse off every year for the next 20 years and that includes the children here as well today.”
Aird and Loch Ness councillor Helen Carmichael urged residents to concentrate on objections they can make on planning grounds.
A spokeswoman from Druim Ba Sustainable Energy said: “We are in the process of redesigning the scheme following the first round of public consultation and the new design will be subject to a further round of public consultation which will be advertised in the next few weeks.”
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