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Fears voiced over windfarm bid

Plans for yet another windfarm in the picturesque Monadhliath Mountains went on public display for the first time yesterday.

The proposal for the Dell Estate, which has views over Loch Ness, brings to nine the number of completed and proposed windfarms in the Stratherrick and Foyers Community Council area.

Already the Mountaineering Council of Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) have expressed concern at the proliferation of windfarms in this wilderness.

Community councillor Alex Sutherland said: “We have more green energy developments per s quare mile in our community council area, which runs from the shores of Loch Ness to the peaks of the Monadhliath Mountains, than anywhere else in Scotland.

“We have nine projects, either completed or proposed, at the moment.

“But then we have more wind and water rushing through our community than anywhere else in Scotland so it’s perhaps not surprising that there has been so much interest here, particularly given the proximity to the grid.”

Developers Coriolis Energy and Falck Renewables originally wanted to erect 22 turbines on Dell Estate, but they altered their plans following concerns about the visual impact of the development. They now want to erect 16 turbines, with a tip height of about 425ft and a total capacity of about 40MW.

Stewart Forsyth, of Coriolis Energy, said the project had brought a mixed reaction from locals.

He said: “The main concerns were access for contractors during the construction period and the visual impact of the development.

“We are working with the Highland Council to address the access concerns and we are working hard to reduce the visual impact for key locations, such as the views across the loch from the A82.

“We’ve reduced the number of turbines and that will reduce the impact.”

The windfarm was expected to provide community benefit of more than £200,000 a year.

Community councillors were reluctant yesterday to criticise proposal.

However, the reduction in the number of turbines was welcomed by local people attending the exhibition at Stratherrick Public Hall at Gorthleck yesterday.

Bob Mann, 63, a self-employed civil engineer, of Foyers, said: “I think it’s better now they’ve reduced the number of turbines, but I’m not 100% in favour yet as this is the first time I’ve looked at it.”