Scotland’s upland landscape is at risk of being sacrificed to commercial, interests, the head of the country’s mountain body said.
Mountaineering Council of Scotland president Brian Linington pitched in with his views ahead of a planning meeting that will determine the future of the remote Monadhliath Mountains, where a major windfarm is planned at Allt Duine.
Mr Linington said: “The MCofS believes that Scotland’s mountain landscape is a valuable asset which belongs to the Scottish people.
“That mountain landscape has a scenic, cultural, economic and iconic value to the Scottish nation, which is worth significantly more than its economic value to renewables investors for power generation developments.
“We are pro-renewable energy and believe that Scotland’s renewables targets can be achieved without recourse to the extensive development of mountain areas, areas which have international recognition as landscapes of outstanding natural beauty.
“Scotland’s mountains are a venue for recreation, exercise and a wide range of outdoor sports which are growing in popularity, with consequent benefits for the nation’s health and wellbeing, so benefiting the economy long-term through preventative measures which come at no cost to the Government.”
“They are an asset for the tourism industry with its vital importance to the rural economy, sustainably supporting thousands of local jobs in the Highlands, in comparison to the transient job creation schemes represented by wind farm developments.
“The mountains benefit the majority, rather than the minority who benefit disproportionately from the profits and subsidies made by and to the multinational wind-power generation industry and landowners; subsidies which are paid for by electricity consumers through increasingly crippling bills.
“Whilst the final decision on Allt Duine ultimately rests with Scottish ministers, any decision other than rejection of the proposals by the Highland Council will send a clear signal that there is no local opposition to further and extensive wind farm developments in the Monadhliath Mountains, including those proposed at Corriegarth and Stronelairg.
“We call on the Scottish Government to recognise the value of our upland landscape and revise its policy of wholesale planning approval for large-scale wind farm developments in the mountains, or be recognised by both the Scottish people and internationally as the decision-makers responsible for permanently scarring Scotland’s wonderful mountain landscapes.”
Opponents of the Allt Duine development include former MCofS president Chris Townsend and fellow writer and journalist Cameron McNeish.
The MCofS represents 11,000 members and supports climbing, hillwalking and mountaineering north of the border. It is funded by membership subscriptions; non-governmental grants; and investment from sportscotland.
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