Anti-windfarm campaigners fear Scotland’s new wild land maps have abandoned Highland Perthshire to the mercy of voracious turbine developers.
The document has been produced by Scottish Natural Heritage and the Government to offer greater protection to “nationally important” landscapes.
Parts of Highland Perthshire – which has found itself at the centre of a green energy feeding frenzy – had featured in initial drafts.
They have, however, been dropped from the completed map after it was decided the area around Loch Tay was not worthy of inclusion.
With that bombshell ringing in the ears of the community, whose hopes of assistance have been dashed, opponents of the industrialisation of Scotland’s countryside fear open season has been declared.
Already home to a significant concentration of windfarms and hydro developments, a staggering number of new developments are already proposed for Highland Perthshire.
Ten new turbine sites – amounting to more than 100 towers – are proposed within touching distance of Dunkeld and Birnam and the existing major sites at Griffin and Calliacher to the north-west.
The new wild land maps have been hailed as “a historic breakthrough” in the campaign to have Scotland’s wild land recognised and protected.
Scotland Against Spin spokeswoman Linda Holt, however, called the new planning legislation “a pig in a poke” and “gutless spin from a Government desperate not to upset the wind industry”.
“This delivers less new protection for fewer areas than conservationists were hoping for,” she said.
“There has always been a de facto ban on windfarms in our two national parks so this adds nothing new.
“What is new is the protection for wild land, but since this does not amount to a ban on turbines, it’s anybody’s guess what this will mean in practice.
“Shamefully two wild land areas have been dropped from SNH’s original wild land map in what looks like a backroom deal with the wind industry.
“Only two weeks ago the Highland’s biggest ever windfarm at Stronelairg was given the nod by Scottish Ministers even though it sat in the middle of a designated wild area.
“Unsurprisingly this wild land area has now disappeared from the map, as has another area south of LochTay which is also under siege from windfarm developers.
“The wild land map will encourage developers to target Scotland’s rural communities and cherished landscapes not on the wild land map with even greater intensity.”
Pitlochry-based conservation charity the John Muir Trust has welcomed the wild land map, while accepting that it “fell short” of what it had called for.
A spokeswoman said “We are still looking at the detail of why certain areas – including that around Loch Tay – have been removed.
“I have no doubt that it will have been extremely disappointing for the people who live in these areas.
“We will be attempting to find out why they have been removed.”
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) produced the map of the country’s wild land areas, setting out which areas of wilderness are considered to be nationally important.
The new map was drawn up following a seven-week consultation with the public and includes 42 areas of wild land, covering 19.5% of Scotland.
The Scottish Government is proposing that these areas will have “significant protection” under new planning policies.