Plans for a controversial wind farm on Scotland’s iconic Rannoch Moor are attracting fierce criticism from experts and celebrities, including Outlander author Diana Gabaldon.
Outlander author Diana Gabaldon has condemned plans for a wind farm near Loch Rannoch where scenes for the new epic TV serialisation of her work were filmed.
If approved, the Talladh a Bheithe wind farm would see 24 wind turbines, each 125m tall, together with 12.8km of wide access tracks, buildings and infrastructure, industrialise a vast area of designated wild land between Loch Rannoch and Loch Ericht.
It is strongly opposed by many groups, including the Mountaineering Council of Scotland.
The US launch of the 16-part Outlander TV series attracted five million viewers and is the biggest single television or film production ever made in Scotland. A second series has been announced, which could be worth £20 million to the Scottish economy.
Fans of Outlander love the magnificent, wild and open highland landscapes which are the setting for the tales about World War II nurse, Claire Randall, who is transported back to the strife-torn Scotland of 1743 where she meets handsome warrior Jamie Fraser,
With the novels having sold 25 million copies and the rapid global spread of the TV serialisation, Diana has done an immense amount to further popularise Scotland’s mountains and wild lands as a visitor destination and film location.
The US-based author’s opposition to the wind farm proposal comes not just from her love of the landscape, but also from the expertise she gathered studying for a PhD and then working as a professional ecologist.
She said: “Light-bulbs need energy; human souls need wildness and beauty. While I appreciate the need for sustainable energy development, I very much oppose such a project on Rannoch Moor.
“While I am a novelist and film consultant, I was in my previous career an ecologist – and in all three of those roles, I’d view the potential loss of Rannoch Moor’s unique wilderness ecosystem as a tragedy, a disaster that would not be worth any amount of extra kilowattage.”
Stars of the series have appeared in a promotional video praising the beauty of the Scottish countryside and describing Loch Rannoch as a favourite location.
The wind farm proposal, being put forward by Netherlands-based developer, Eventus BV, has attracted around 1,000 objections.
Strength of feeling is so great that the issue will be debated in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow (Tuesday, 30 September) following a motion placed before the house by Murdo Fraser MSP – which attracted cross-party support.
David Gibson, MCofS Chief Officer, said: “Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander novels are loved in part because they capture the beauty and wildness of the Highlands.
“The immense success of her TV series shows how much people value our open landscapes and offer further evidence as to why we must not ruin what remains of our wild lands by turning them into industrial zones.
“Such places are at the heart of Scotland’s cultural identity and history, they are essential for our recreation, well-being and enjoyment. And in economic terms they are absolutely vital for our film and tourism industries.
Rannoch Moor has also been celebrated in books such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped and films such as The 39 Steps and Trainspotting.
Among the organisations opposing the wind farm scheme are the John Muir Trust, which has described it as “a knife in the heart of Scotland’s natural beauty” and Scottish Natural Heritage, which has criticised its likely effects on rare birds and mammals – estimating that the turbines will kill one golden eagle every 19 months.
The development would affect views from more than 30 Munros and Corbetts, including Schiehallion, the Ben Alder massif, mountains above Glen Lyon, the Drumochter Hills and Buachaille Etive Mor.
The turbines would also be visible from the iconic West Highland Railway line and the A82 – the main tourist route through the West Highlands.
[video, slideshow available at source]