Mountaineers claim a proposed wind farm next to the Cairngorm National Park would “scar the landscape” with 15,500 tonnes of concrete.
A public inquiry examining plans for the 31-turbine Allt Duine project started in Aviemore yesterday.
As evidence was led during the first day, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland claimed that developers RWE npower had no stated plan to clear up after the wind farm closes.
They said it would leave 31 huge concrete bases – each consisting of 500 tonnes of steel and concrete – to decay.
And the body added that a total of 24km of redundant 6metre-wide tracks would be left through what is currently wild land.
David Gibson, MCofS Chief Officer, said: “We support green energy generation but this scheme involves dumping 15,500 tonnes of concrete and miles of roads in mountain areas of national importance and beauty.
“Wind farms are supposed to have a lifetime of 25 years; we would therefore expect developers to include proposals for site restitution in their plans as evidence of good stewardship of the environment.
“This public inquiry should protect our precious natural environment by putting a stop to this completely inappropriate project.”
The MCofS is also concerned that maps being presented to the inquiry by the developers fail to show that their turbines would come within 67 metres of an area designated by Scottish Natural Heritage – Zone 3 – being of such sensitivity that there should be an automatic presumption against wind farms.
Mr Gibson said: “These huge turbines are each 125m high. One is so close to a Zone 3 area that if it toppled over it would land inside.
“This is an area which is so special that wind farm development should not take place. As you might expect we are astonished that the developer has omitted this essential information from their proposal.
The MCofS has recently sent its manifesto to the First Minister, MSPs and MPs representing Scottish constituencies and local councillors in eight local authorities.
The document calls for a moratorium on further developments in areas of special sensitivity, such as the Munros and Corbetts which are Scotland’s highest peaks.
The Cairngorm National Park Authority is also objecting to the impacts of the proposed wind farm.
Chairman Duncan Bryden said: “We are concerned about the potential cumulative effect of the Allt Duine wind farm along with others proposed at Glenkirk and Tom nan Clach.
“Many people come to the Cairngorms National Park for its mountain landscapes, the long open horizons and to experience a sense of wildness and the CNPA believes it is wise to safeguard their enjoyment and that of future Park users.”
CNPA landscape officer, Frances Thin added: “We know from recent research that the public value wildness very highly and that for many the unique arctic and sub-arctic landscapes of the Cairngorms National Park are Scotland’s wildest landscapes.
“This special quality will be reduced if turbines become a prominent feature of the landscape seen from the Park regardless of whether they are actually built within the boundary.”
RWE Npower Renewables has proposed the development for the site at Allt Duine in the Monadhliath Mountains.
Kincraig Community Council has backed the project saying it would help Badenoch and Strathspey be self sufficient in terms of electricity.
Spokesman John Anderson said: “The hills that we have are very, very valuable, but at the same time the Scottish Government has been trying to get businesses into the Highlands and Islands for years and here we have a company that can come in and harvest the wind in the area.”
RWE Npower Renewables had proposed 34 turbines, but reduced the size of the scheme following public consultation.
The turbines will have a maximum height to blade tip of 125m. At three locations the developer said the height would be restricted to 110m to avoid turbines from being seen at viewpoints within the Strathspey area.
Highland Council voted to oppose the project after councillors took the UK’s highest railway journey to help them assess the potential visual impact of the Allt Duine scheme.
They travelled on the Cairngorms funicular railway which climbs to 1,097m. The railway’s highest point is just below the summit of CairnGorm Mountain.
The Scottish government has the final say on the development.
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