Mountaineers are calling on planners to throw out a controversial proposal to build 83 wind turbines in a wild area of the Highlands.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland said Highland Council’s planning committee should either turn down the plans or take a visit to the Monadhliath Mountains to see the area for themselves.
Council officers have recommended the plans be approved.
The Stronelairg windfarm would have turbines up to 135m tall, close to the boundary of the Cairngorms national park.
The proposals are due to be considered tomorrow, Tuesday.
David Gibson, MCofS chief officer, said: “This proposal by SSE would involve building a huge power plant with vast turbines, miles of trackways, buildings and huge masts, in some of the most beautiful mountains in Scotland, at the edge of the Cairngorms national park.
“It is completely wrong-headed, putting energy company profits ahead of our national heritage.
“We are calling on councillors to either reject the proposal or, if they need further convincing, to pay a site visit and see first-hand what the scheme threatens to destroy.”
Three windfarm proposals were turned down by Highland Council last week.
Mr Gibson said: “Highland councillors have already shown an impressive determination to oppose unsuitable developments, and we hope this will continue.
“We agree with their position that this is not about being opposed to renewables, but simply that some areas are precious and should be protected.”
The MCofS, which has 11,400 members representing climbers, hillwalkers and mountaineers, said now would be the wrong moment to approve the scheme as a petition is due to go before the Scottish Parliament public petitions committee on the same day that they consider the application, calling for a new designation that would protect the best of Scotland’s shrinking areas of wild land.
The Stronelairg proposals also include 59km of new and 21.7km of upgraded tracks, each several metres wide. The developers also want to create a series of buildings plus four meteorological masts.
The petition to parliament by the highly respected John Muir Trust seeks to put an end to the lamentable situation which has seen more and more of our the wild lands being wrecked.
“Highland Council has also recently expressed its own concern about threats to wild landscapes, so we would again ask the planning committee to reject this scheme or defer its decision.”
Objections to the windfarm proposal have been lodged by the MCofS, John Muir Trust, the Cairngorms National Park Authority and Scottish Natural Heritage.
The MCofS said it is also deeply concerned that council planning officers have recommended that no objections should be made to the SSE proposals, even though it said this flies in the face of the council’s established position on protecting wild lands.
Mr Gibson said: “Councillors have recently voted to reject large-scale wind farms when officers had advised making no objection.
“The officers’ recommendations were difficult to understand as a series of important issues had been raised. It is, therefore, surprising that officers have once again chosen to advise that there should be no objection to another major scheme that would industrialise our mountains.”
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