A planned wind farm could kill golden eagles in the blades of its 24 turbines, environmentalists have warned.
Black throated, great northern and red throated divers, dotterels, white-tailed eagles and hen harriers are also threatened by the scheme planned for an area between Loch Rannoch and Loch Ericht, one of Scotland’s last wildernesses, experts said.
Ospreys, which nest in forestry to the west and fly over the area to fish in lochs Ericht and Mheugaidh, could be killed too.
The developer Netherlands-based Eventus BV, has insisted the scheme can fit into the landscape. But Scottish Natural Heritage said the Talladh-a-Bheithe wind farm would have a damaging effect on birds and mammals, including bats and otters.
Hundreds of residents, businesses and landscape protection organisations also oppose the scheme, including the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS), the John Muir Trust and the Keep Rannoch Wild campaign.
In a submission to the Scottish Government, MCofS cites evidence from George Macdonald, who recently retired after 23 years as head gamekeeper on a local estate. Mr Macdonald said: “I am very familiar with the wildlife that abounds in the Rannoch area and rare species that frequent the site of this proposed scheme.
“I wish to object to this planning application on the grounds that the scheme is likely to have significant negative impacts on bird species.”
He said the area was a prime hunting ground for the eagles which nest on high ground nearby. He feared mammals, including otters, which use the Allt Ghlas and its tributaries, would also be affected.
SNH argued that, on average, one golden eagle every 19 months could be killed by the planned turbines.
MCofS chief officer David Gibson said: “Scotland’s mountains and wild lands are one of our greatest treasures and must be protected. This ill-considered, inappropriate and deeply unpopular scheme is a serious threat both to our wildlife and to the sustainable tourism businesses which rely on visitors wanting to come and experience our open, empty spaces and the birds and animals which thrive there.”
Mr Gibson fears the huge turbines would affect views from Schiehallion, the Ben Alder massif, the mountains above Glen Lyon and Loch Tay, and some above the Drumochter Pass.
A spokesman for Keep Rannoch Wild said: “This rare and precious habitat is essential for the success of breeding eagles in Rannoch.
“It provides a base from which they are slowly but surely re-colonising their old territories in Highland Perthshire.
“It would be an outrage if they were displaced by construction activity and, even more so, if any were damaged or killed, as would be likely, by this insensitive and speculative scheme.
“The site that Eventus proposes should be cherished, not bulldozed and concreted.”
A spokesman for Eventus said: “We are currently in the process of analysing all feedback and will respond through the appropriate channels.”
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