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Mast plan has sparked fears over windfarm; Protesters fight for the ‘last strath unaffected’

Locals have raised objections to plans to put up a second mast to measure wind speeds on a Highland moor, fearing it paves the way for windfarm development on the site.

Edinburgh-based renewable energy company Wind Energy (Glenmorie) has applied for planning permission for a temporary 262ft anemometry mast on open moorland at Mheall Bhenneit, Kildermorie, Ross-shire.

The company has previously announced an intention to submit planning permission this year for a 40-turbine windfarm in the area.

A report by Highland Council’s area planning manager Allan Todd, set to go before the Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross planning committee today, recommends granting the windspeed mast application.

The energy firm was recently given permission to install a 196ft temporary anemometer north of Kildermorie.

Danish firm Rock By Sea has also been granted permission to install a wind-speed mast in the area.

Members of Ardross Community Council objected to the application for the three-year temporary mast, fearing it could lead to windfarm development.

Council members said they do not want any turbines visible on the proposed mast ridge, or at Strathrusdale.

The report states: “This is the last strath in Ardross unaffected by turbines and contains an important tourist route to Croick and Ullapool. It was understood from Wind Energy that no turbines were to be placed on this ridge because of visibility from the Dornoch Firth National Scenic Area and also MoD objections as this is an area used for pilot training.”

The report states: “This would be the third mast visible in a narrow field of vision from some properties. The proliferation of masts is not welcomed.”

Members added that one of the masts has recently fallen down and called for more stringent conditions to avoid injury or property damage.

The MoD is not objecting to the proposal but has asked that the mast is fitted with aviation lighting for safety reasons.

The report states that many of the community council’s concerns are not relevant to the application since most relate to a possible future windfarm.

Mr Todd said that the distances between masts are large, with both temporary masts around 2.5 miles from the proposed mast.