Campaigners claim a scenic area of the Highlands will be “wantonly vandalised” if planned wind farm developments are allowed to go ahead.
Today sees the start of public inquiries into two projects that would see 43 turbines built near the village of Tomatin in Inverness-shire.
Protesters say that if both schemes are approved there will be a continuous line of turbines along the northern arc of the Cairngorms National Park.
Strathdearn Against Windfarm Developments (SAWD) has campaigned against plans by Eurus Energy Ltd for a 26-turbine development at Glenkirk on the Balnespick Estate about four miles from Tomatin, for six years.
It has also recently joined a campaign against a 17-turbine development put forward by Infinergy Ltd at Tom nan Clach on the Cawdor Estate, five miles from Tomatin.
Ahead of the inquiries, the group has attacked the plans and the Scottish Government’s policy for onshore wind developments. Pat Wells, the SAWD convener, said: “The proposed wind farm sites on the Dava Hills must not be degraded by these industrial developments.
“If constructed, views from many locations including the Cairngorms National Park and many tourist routes will be marred by up to 43 concrete and steel turbines, and miles of ugly access tracks will scar the open moorland and hillsides.”
She said the area of beautiful scenery is also the hunting ground for many birds and animals.
“It is unacceptable that all this should be wantonly vandalised to line the coffers of a few who care nothing for the land and the life it supports,” she said.
Ms Wells complained that campaigners will not be able to challenge the Scottish Government’s policy on onshore wind farms at the inquiry.
She said: “We are not permitted to challenge government policy for onshore wind power generation even though the developers can and do state that one of the main reasons for their industrial power stations on the hills is to support this same government policy.
“All the evidence shows that the policy is seriously flawed but the issue is not for consideration at the inquiry sessions.”
Fiona Milligan, project manager for the Tom nan Clach project, said the project would contribute to the economy both locally and nationally, while helping the Scottish Government to achieve its renewable energy targets.
We are looking forward to defending the project at public inquiry, particularly when the original application had no objections from statutory consultees,” she said.
“The Cairngorms National Park Authority, which has objected to neighbouring Glenkirk, and Scottish Natural Heritage believe that the landscape character in this area has ‘the capacity to support some development’.”
No one was available for comment at Eurus Energy yesterday but the company has previously stated that it hopes to demonstrate at the inquiry that the landscape can accommodate the development.
The inquiries, led by the Reporter Dannie Onn, will be held at Carrbridge Village Hall. Glenkirk will be discussed from today until Friday, and the debate on Tom nan Clach will run from 30 August to 2 September.
The national park authority has said the cumulative effect of wind farms would affect the park’s character.
The Scottish Government declined to comment yesterday.
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