The controversial wind farm plan for Allt Duine off the A9 near Kincraig will now be decided at a public inquiry after Highland Council rejected the proposals on Tuesday.
The council’s south planning applications committee voted to reject the 31-turbine proposal lodged by RWE Npower Renewables Limited which had been recommended for approval by planning officials.
Formal objections have already 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.
Badenoch and Strathspey councillors Dave Fallows and Stuart Black, who both sit on the committee, both called for a Scottish Government inquiry during the meeting in Inverness.
Councillor Fallows, the vice-chairman of the committee, questioned the proximity of the wind farm to the Cairngorm National Park and said it could threaten the unspoilt “wildness” of the Monadhliaths.
“We need the advice of government and the contribution of the public at a public inquiry,” said Councillor Fallows. “We have seen that if the turbines were built they would be visible from a number of the parks in the Cairngorms,”
Inverness South Councillor Thomas Prag supported the recommendation and claimed there would be little impact on the national park.
“We can’t say no to all of them and I would worry if we got a reputation as being anti-wind farm per se,” said Councillor Prag.
Councillor Fallows tabled a motion that the council object to the wind farm because of its proximity to the national park and the potential impact on the landscape which won by nine votes to three.
Campaigners against the development welcomed the council’s stance.
Former President of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, Chris Townsend, a spokesman for the Save the Monadhliath Mountains (SMM) campaign, said: “After months of tireless campaigning and securing large scale public support, we’re pleased that the Highland Council Area planning committee has objected to the Allt Duine wind farm proposal.
“A huge amount of Scottish natural heritage is at stake and it is crucial that the proposal is assessed thoroughly. The only way to guarantee a meticulous assessment is for the application to be heard at a full Public Inquiry undertaken by the Scottish Government.
“Despite today’s formal objection, this is only the beginning of a long process and we will carry on working with our membership to protect this area of unspoilt natural beauty.”
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