It is opposed by Donald Trump, former England captain Terry Butcher and three community councils, who claim it will ruin the nearby landscape.
But supporters say it will create employment opportunities and contribute more than £7 million to the local economy over 25 years.
A public inquiry into plans for a controversial wind farm overlooking Loch Ness opened yesterday as Druim Ba Sustainable Energy pursued its bid to build 23 wind turbines in the hills to the west of the loch, which at 490ft will be the highest in Scotland. They would be in Blairmore Forest, between Kiltarlity and Drumnadrochit.
The company said the project could provide enough electricity to meet the needs of 38,000 homes and over the 25-year life of the wind farm there would be employment opportunities amounting to “975 full-time equivalent job years”.
It says a community benefit of £310,500 per year would be paid to the local communities, contributing more than £7m over the same period.
The company also insists the turbines would not be seen from Urquhart Castle or from 98% of Loch Ness, and a maximum of five turbines might be visible on 5% of the eastern shore of the loch.
However, after a site visit in September, the local planning committee from Highland Council voted unanimously to support their officials’ recommendation to object to the development.
Druim Ba Sustainable Energy appealed to Scottish ministers, triggering the inquiry, which is expected to sit until towards the end of next week.
Denise Davis, a member of the local Druim Ba Say No campaign, said yesterday she felt more optimistic following the Scottish Government’s recent decision to refuse permission for the 30 turbine Spittal Hill wind farm, the first to be refused by ministers since 2008.
The Scottish Government felt it would be too close to neighbouring properties and were concerned about the cumulative effect when taken with existing and consented wind farms nearby.
She said that showed ministers realised there are a lot of wind farm applications in the system.
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