A planned 27-turbine wind farm at Dalnessie, 13 kilometres north east of Lairg, would “irreversibly damage” an area of outstanding beauty, it is claimed.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) is objecting to the development, permission for which is being sought by Scottish and Southern Energy.
MCofS Chief Officer David Gibson said the 121-metre high turbines would be visible from three of Sutherland’s most iconic mountains, Ben Klibreck, Ben Armine and Ben Loyal.
He said: “The proposed wind farm would have a massive footprint with 27 turbines and 20 kilometres of six-metre wide new access tracks, cutting through an area of previously unspoiled beauty.
“This area of Sutherland has one of the most remarkable landscapes in Europe and should be afforded appropriate protection to ensure this kind of threat is removed.”
Mr Gibson argues that the proposal was not in accordance with the Highland Council Development Plan and would be contrary to the purposes of the Special Landscape Area designation in the Highland-wide Local Plan.
“The sensitivity of the site and nature and scale of the proposed development means the landscape simply does not have the capacity to accept it,” he said.
“We believe that the applicant has not presented any evidence to indicate that there are material considerations to argue otherwise and as such the application should be refused.”
The Lairg and Rosehall area has been identified by Highland Council as a preferred zone for windfarms, but concern is mounting locally at the number of developments in the pipeline.
In September last year David Walker, then chairman of Lairg Community Council, described the development of windfarms in central Sutherland as the “afforestation of the 21st Century.”
So far six power companies have set their sights on central Sutherland and, if they all get their way, eight windfarms containing in total over 188 turbines could be a distinct possibility.
All eight windfarms are presently at different stages with two operational, one under construction and four awaiting a planning decision and one at the scoping stage.
The blades are already turning at the small three-turbine Lairg Wind Farm (ABO Wind UK and the 19-turbine Achany Wind Farm (SSE Renewables). Meanwhile, a 19-turbine farm at Rosehall (E.ON Renewables) is under construction.
Planning applications have been lodged for 27 turbines at Braemore (Wind Prospect Ltd); 22 turbines at Sallachy (WKN Windkraft Nord); 27 turbines at Dalnessie (SSE Renewables) and 40 turbines at Glenmorie. At the scoping stage is the 50-turbine Glencassley farm.
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