Plans by a German company to build a windfarm at the entrance to one of the most scenic areas of Inverness-shire were met with anger yesterday.
Objectors claim seven giant turbines near the world-famous Highland tourism hotspot of Glen Affric would create an “industrial gateway” to the picturesque area that includes large chunks of the ancient Caledonian pine forest.
German-owned wpd Scotland wants to instal 405ft-high turbines 1.2 miles from Glen Affric, a designated national nature reserve renowned for its beauty and tranquility.
The area is popular with tourists and locals alike, and is a popular destination for cyclists and walkers from Inverness and Rossshire.
The recently-formed Alliance Party of Scotland said the development would become “the industrial gateway to Glen Affric”.
Party leader Richard Crawford said: “The Alliance Party of Scotland believes industrial windfarms that impact on areas such as world-renowned Glen Affric should be avoided at all costs in order to preserve local businesses, quality of life, and to protect wildlife and the valuable wild land environment.”
He said the party was concerned also about local communities being asked to agree to negotiate with the developers by the end of next month regarding one of the turbines being taken into community ownership.
He said: “The pressure that is being put on all of these communities and the bribes that are being offered to them – they can’t fight it. That’s why we set up the party, to try and put some political pressure on Holyrood.”
The Beinn Mhor windfarm would be situated on Guisachan Estate, 3.4 miles south of Cannich and 1.2 miles south-east of the heritage village of Tomich in Strathglass.
Wpd Scotland stated in a scoping application to Highland Council: “Thepotential for visual impact on the setting of and views both intoandout of theNational Scenic Areas, Special Landscape Areas and popular Glen AffricMunros including Carn Eighe, Mam Sodhail, Tom a Choinich and Toll Creagach would need to be considered.”
The firm has offered the local community the opportunity to invest in one turbine, subject to a minimum number gaining consent.
Residents have been given a deadline of the end of June to express an interest in taking on the turbine.
But project leader Keith Bale insists this is not placing pressure on the locals.
He said: “The deadline was to let people know we are keen to find out if they interested in the turbine. It is still up to them whether they take up that offer.”
There are fears the plans are already polarising the local community.
One resident, who didn’t want to be named, said: “It is already getting the community into sections for and against and the concern is that what is a good working community may well end up descending into in-fighting.”
He said he was personally against windfarms, but added: “If the Scottish-Government is going to force us to have these wretched things, we might as well have some financial benefit.
“For small and vulnerable communities such as ours, the income is substantial and could be put to good use.
“At the moment I don’t think these few extra turbines will particularly affect tourism here but the worry is if this one goes in it could open the door for dozens more.”
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