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Allt Duine project a step too far, say campaigners

A windfarm protest group has claimed that rural tourism and the Highland economy stands to be severely damaged by a proposed windfarm on the edge of the Cairngorm National Park.

The Save the Monadhliath Mountains (SMM) campaign pointed out yesterday that the Allt Duine site is one of 11 windfarms being developed in and around the national park.

The SMM campaign said they believe there is a line in the sand and this is it.

“This windfarm is a step too far,” said the group.

SMM highlighted that according to a recent report by Scottish Natural Heritage, Scotland’s nature is worth at least £1.4billion a year to the Scottish economy (40% of all tourism spending) and supports the equivalent of 39,000 full-time jobs. Wildlife tourism brings in £127million and is the main driver behind more than 1million trips to Scotland each year. Walking and enjoying the landscape are thought to be worth at least £900million between them. Campaigners feel that the proposed 31 turbines, the majority of which are 410ft high, or the equivalent to a stack of 28 double-decker buses, are completely inappropriate for an area of outstanding natural beauty and would have a critical and irrevocable impact not just on the landscape and wildlife, but potentially also on the tourist appeal of the area.

SMM said the proposed Allt Duine windfarm would not only be visible from 21 miles away, destroying views of the striking Monadhliath Mountains, the Strathdearn Hills, the Meall A Buachaille ridge, Cromdale, Gaick, Dalnamein and the Atholl forest, but would also be seen by visitors to the Cairngorm Mountain Railway and parts of the Rothiemurchus Estate, both of which are listed in the top 10 visitor attractions in the highlands.

SMM spokesman Chris Townsend, outdoor author, photographer and former president of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, who lives in the Cairngorms National Park, said: “The proposed Allt Duine wind factory represents one of 11 windfarms that either already exist or are at the planning stage in the Cairngorms National Park area alone.

“The campaign and its supporters are very concerned about the cumulative effect of turbines on the unspoiled landscape of Scotland’s largest national park and the potential damage to the area’s tourism industry.

“The appeal of our rugged wild landscape cannot be underestimated. Rural tourism is vital to the Highlands’ economy and to carry on industrialising the area is unacceptable. To build a large windfarm in an area of unspoilt wild land, and in an area that the council wishes to protect, would be devastating and a step too far. ”

The RWE npower renewables application will come before the Highland Council planning committee in the coming months.

If councillors do not object to the proposal the application will pass to the Scottish Government to make a decision.

If the councillors object, will trigger a public inquiry.

Formal objections have been lodged with the Scottish Government by the Cairngorms National Park Authority, the John Muir Trust, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, Scottish Campaign for National Parks and key local estates.