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Inquiry held on controversial Caithness wind farm

An inquiry is to open today into a controversial 24-turbine wind farm proposed for peatlands in Caithness – and it will be the first to be held since the introduction of new Government guidance on wild land.

Highland Councillors last year objected unanimously to the Limekiln development, near Reay, by Dorset-based energy firm Infinergy, triggering the Public Local Inquiry (PLI).

Councillors described the proposed project as “visually shocking”.

Because of the adoption of the Wild Land Areas map by the Scottish Government in June of this year, a PLI will, for the first time, be holding a specific session on Wild Land.

Also expected to give evidence during the week-long inquiry is conservation charity, the John Muir Trust.

The trust is opposing the development on the grounds that is adjacent to one of Scotland’s new Wild Land Areas, as mapped by SNH and recognised as an asset of national importance by the Scottish Government.

Helen McDade, the trust’s head of policy, said: ”As someone who was born and raised in Caithness, protection of the Flow Country is a cause close to my heart.

“But this is also a development of national significance because it is the first major test of the new Wild Land Areas map.

“A 24-turbine wind farm would visually affect 15 per cent of the East Halladale Flows Wild Land Area.

“If the application were to succeed, it would undermine the integrity of the Wild Land Areas map, and encourage a flood of speculative applications by developers in and around the other 41 Wild Land Areas.”

The PLI will take place at the Weigh Inn hotel in Thurso.