The Mountaineering Council of Scotland has reacted with dismay to the Scottish Government’s decision to grant permission for a 67-turbine wind farm which will be able to be seen from parts of the Cairngorms National Park.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has given the go-ahead for the Stronelairg development on the Garrogie Estate near Fort Augustus.
Mr David Gibson, Chief Officer for the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, said: “We objected to Stronelairg because it will be a massively intrusive industrial development located on a 700 metre high plateau, meaning that the height of turbines will extend to more than 800 metres above sea level (2,500 feet) and be visible from mountains for miles around and from the Cairngorms National Park.
“The Scottish Government appears to be oblivious to the adverse impacts of such developments on tourism.
“Even research studies sponsored by the renewables industry itself already show a worrying and serious trend in the adverse impact on visitor intentions, based on their perceptions of wind farm developments.
“The Scottish Government will publish its latest planning policy (NPF3 and SPP) on 23 June in which it will lay out the measures by which it aims to protect Scotland’s world-renowned landscape from onshore wind farm developments.
“If Stronelairg is indicative of the value it places on our landscape, there seems to be little hope for its future, and for that of the many businesses and thousands of jobs in rural communities which rely on tourists who come to Scotland for its landscape, unless strong protective measures are put in place.”
The project will provide power for the equivalent of up to 114,000 homes.
Badenoch MSP Dave Thompson (SNP) has welcomed the go-ahead and said it will generate as much as £30 million in benefits for the local area and the Highlands as a whole.
During the construction phase and throughout its lifespan the project will create more than 100 jobs for the local community.
Mr Thompson said: “This decision is fantastic news for the local area and the Highlands as a whole – and further confirmation of the potential for renewable energy not just to make our country greener – but also to create jobs and contribute to strengthening Scotland’s economy.
“That the local community – and the Highlands as a whole – are set to benefit by up to £30 million is also particularly welcome.
“The Scottish Government recognises the importance of harnessing Scotland’s vast renewable energy potential and this decision is another step toward meeting the target to generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
“Scotland has the potential to be the renewables powerhouse of Europe – and the sector already employs more than 11,000 people across the country and provides more than a third of the UK’s renewable electricity generation.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding