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Bad news about wild land ‘buried’

The John Muir Trust, the UK’S leading wild land conservation charity, yesterday claimed that another festive season has been used by the Scottish Government to bury bad news.

The trust is dismayed at the post-christmas announcement of approval of the east extension to the Muaitheabhal windfarm in south Lewis which they say potentially brings further destruction to one of the UK’S best wild land areas.

Helen Mcdade, head of policy, said: “If developers can come back after the planning process, including a public inquiry, and change their plans before a sod is turned with no real scrutiny, it makes a mockery of the process.

“There would seem to be worrying pointers about government and planning policy that might be taken from this, alongside other planning approvals over the last months – including 59 turbines at Dorenell in Moray also festively approved, and the Beauly-denny transmission line limping home with virtually no change from the scheme first lodged in 2006.

“The government approves almost 100% of large onshore wind developments, regardless of concerns such as the impact on key natural environment areas and level of public objection – shown by the 20,000 objections to BeaulyDenny, for instance.

“This is even the case, as with Muaitheabhal, where significant adverse effects to nationally designated sites are accepted by the government’s own advisers.

“The Scottish Government Reporter for a public inquiry, examining a version of the Muaitheabhal scheme concluded, ‘the windfarm would have significant adverse effects on scenic qualities’.”

A spokesman for the government confirmed Energy Minister Fergus Ewing had decided prior to the festive break to approve the £250million Dorenell Windfarm on the Glenfiddich Estate near Cabrach and the extension to the Muaitheabal scheme.