The campaign to block plans for a huge windfarm in Moray has been dealt a major blow after wildlife and tourism bosses dropped their opposition to the scheme.
Developer Vento Ludens wants to build 19 turbines at Brown Muir, off the A941 Elgin-Rothes road.
More than 2,000 people have mounted a campaign to stop the 410ft structures being built – fearing the project could have a devastating impact on the area.
But two key consultees that could have halted the project – Historic Scotland and the RSPB wildlife charity – have now backed the windfarm. Last night, campaigners vowed to fight on, saying the Scottish Government would be “mad” to back the scheme when so many people were against it.
The RSPB was worried about the impact the project would have on the pinkfooted geese that regularly fly over the area. Vento Ludens carried out several studies to allay those concerns – and now the charity has agreed to remove its objection. Historic Scotland had fears about the effect the turbines would have on the view from Innes House.
The developer has now provided artist’s impressions to reassure the government body.
However, Derek Ross, of the Save the Brown Muir Action Group, said he was “surprised” by the decisions – and has vowed to fight on.
He said: “This doesn’t change anything for us.
“There are still 2,200 people objecting to this. When the offshore windfarm near Aberdeen was approved, Alex Salmond said it had overwhelming public support.
“Well, if the Scottish Government is going to apply the same rules, then this one will be thrown out.”
The public have six weeks to have their say on the scheme before it goes in front of Scottish ministers.
A government spokesman said a decision on whether there would be a public local inquiry would be made after the consultation responses had been considered.
Vento Ludens has said it would welcome the public inquiry as it would “provide theopportunity for full transparency”.
The firm claims the layout of its 19 turbines on the landmark hill three miles from Rothes is “an excellent project” that has been “meticulously designed”.
Jay Butler, managing director of Vento Ludens, said: “As part of the normal planning procedure, we were asked by some interested bodies to provide additional information, and we’re happy to do that.
“As I’ve already said, we fully expect there to be a public inquiry into this project and we welcome that as it will provide the opport unity f or f ull t ransparency.
“Aboveall, wewanttoget across the message that, should this project goahead, it will provide enough clean energy to power more than 34,000 homes.”
Mr Ross said: “We are asking the developers to realise the huge opposition to the project and step away.”
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