A leading conservation charity has warned that a controversial wind farm could have harmful long-term economic consequences for Easter Ross.
The John Muir Trust has made the comments about the proposed 34-turbine Glenmorie Wind Farm in the run up to a Public Local Inquiry into the planned development near Ardross.
Earlier this year Highland Council triggered the Public Local Inquiry when it voted to raise an official objection against the proposal on the grounds that it would disrupt wildlife and disfigure scenic landscapes.
The John Muir Trust, which backed the council’s stance, will be represented at a pre-inquiry meeting on Monday July 29 in Ardross.
John Hutchison, chairman of the trust, said: “Last week the Energy Minister Fergus Ewing threw out a wind farm proposal at Blairmore, north-west of Loch Ness, saying that green energy means building the ‘right developments in the right places’. Glenmorie is the wrong development in the wrong place. We need a rigorous investigation that looks at all relevant information – including potential harm to the local economy should the project go ahead.”
The trust says the Glenmorie site extends into an area identified in recent mapping by Scottish Natural Heritage as a core area of wild land and would also have a detrimental effect on the existing SNH Search Area for Wild Land.
The trust has also flagged up the danger that this development could have a damaging effect on peat land, which is an important carbon store and habitat.
Comprising 34 turbines up to 125m high, the controversial wind farm would be visible from the Dornoch Firth and the slopes of Ben Wyvis.
Helen McDade, the trust’s head of policy, said: “Some politicians have suggested that wind farms could be a tourist attraction. Yet polling shows that for every tourist who might be enticed into an area by the presence of wind turbines, another 25 will be deterred from visiting that same area. There is therefore a very real risk to the local economy if the Glenmorie development goes ahead.”
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