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Writers join campaign to stop ‘a windfarm too far’

Two leading outdoors writers have thrown their weight behind a campaign to stop a windfarm being built 400m outside a national park.

Cameron McNeish has joined colleague Chris Townsend, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland’s former president, in the Save the Monadhliath Mountains campaign.

Swindon-based RWE npower renewables wants to build 31 wind turbines 125m high at the Allt Duine site 8km (5 miles) west of Aviemore, in the Monadhliath Mountains.

Formal objections to the proposals have been submitted by the Cairngorms National Park Authority, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, the John Muir Trust and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, along with estates at Pitmain, Glenfeshie and Coignafearn.

Each turbine would be the height of 28 double-decker buses, opponents said, and more than 450 people have signed an online petition opposing the plans.

Mr McNeish said: “This campaign is not against renewables or onshore wind farms per se.

“What we vehemently object to is that if this proposal goes ahead, it will adversely affect the wildness and wildlife in the Monadhliath Mountains, threatening the unique character and natural beauty of this area.

“Once that’s gone, it’s gone forever. I would urge supporters to sign our petition and in doing so send a clear message to the planners: that the proposal for Allt Duine is a windfarm too far.”

Fellow campaigners against Allt Duine said access tracks leading to the windfarm would also cross a number of important habitats on the Scottish biodiversity list, such as blanket bog, wet heath, dry heath and lichen-rich heaths.

A variety of birds of prey have also been tracked in the vicinity of the proposed site, they said.

“Once constructed, the wind turbines would be visible from up to 35km away, destroying further views of the striking Monadhliath Mountains,” a spokesperson added.

“They would also be seen from the CairnGorm Mountain Railway and parts of the Rothiemurchus Estate, both of which are listed as two of the top ten visitor attractions in the Highlands, potentially having a significant impact on tourism in the area, which is vital to the local economy.”

RWE npower renewables said: “Following feedback from public and statutory consultees the design of the windfarm has been reduced from 34 to 31 turbines with a maximum height to blade tip of 125m. At three locations the height to blade tip has been restricted to 110m to avoid visibility at viewpoints within the Strathspey area.”

The company also said the local economy would benefit from construction of the windfarm. It would also establish a number of community projects, including schools education programmes, local event sponsorships, equipment for schools, youth groups and sports clubs, and repair works to village halls and other community buildings, along with energy efficiency measures.

Opponents said the planning application is likely to be considered by the Highland Council’s Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey planning application committee on 8 November. They are urging objectors to push for a public inquiry by the Scottish Government.

The online petition can be found on the Save the Monadhliath Mountains website. A template letter of objection is also available online to send to the relevant Highland Council and local community councillors, MP and MSPs listed on the campaign website.