A campaign group that includes outdoor luminaries has lodged a formal objection to a proposed windfarm.
The Save the Monadhliath Mountains group said the development in the Highlands would further deplete the diminishing wild land and would affect tourism.
SSE Renewables Developments wants to erect 83 turbines at Stronelairg, next to the Glendoe hydroelectric scheme 11km south-east of Fort Augustus.
But SMM campaigners are objecting to the plans because, they say, of the individual and cumulative landscape and visual impact on the sensitive landscape of the Monadhliath Mountains and the Cairngorms national park’s special qualities.
The group was originally formed to fight the Allt Duine windfarm in the Monadhliath Mountains on the boundary of the Cairngorms national park.
Outdoors journalist and writer Chris Townsend, a resident of the Cairngorms national park and spokesman for the group, said: “The Stronelairg windfarm would represent another blow to the sensitive landscape of the Monadhliath Mountains and the Cairngorms national park’s special qualities.
“The SMM campaign opposes the proposal on the basis that this scheme, alongside Allt Duine, would represent a step change in the cumulative effect of wind farms on the western and northern sides of the national park.”
The group’s objection also cites cumulative effects on tourism, as recent research has revealed that ‘unspoilt landscapes’ are by far the most popular reason for visitors to come to the Highlands it said.
“The height of each turbine is up to 135m and the equivalent to over two double decker buses; meaning they will be visible from the national park,” a spokesperson said.
SMM said they are also concerned about Scotland’s dwindling land resources, citing a recent study from Scottish Natural Heritage which found that the amount of Scotland visually unaffected by built development has decreased from 41 per cent in 2002 to 28 per cent in 2009 ‘primarily as a result of construction of windfarms and their associated infrastructure’.
SSE said: “The site itself is located within a large scale, high level plateau which is surrounded by a series of high summits and ridges, providing a degree of distant enclosure.
“This effectively restricts distant views into and out of this area from many directions, and particularly from the west. The plateau area includes a network of structures, some of them large and prominent, including tracks relating to the Glendoe hydroelectric scheme and management of the estate.
“Due to the relative remoteness and high altitude of the site, there will be a limited visual impact on settlements within the surrounding areas.
“Significant effort has been made to mitigate against any negative visual impacts. This is evident from the final design of the windfarm and the limited amount of low-lying areas from which it is visible.”
The Save the Monadhliath Mountains campaign is supported by writer and broadcaster Cameron McNeish; David Gibson, chief officer of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, and the chief executive of the John Muir Trust Stuart Brooks, as well as 1,451 individuals and organisations.
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