Campaigners have accused a windfarm developer of attempting to “hoodwink” the public over its application to erect 300ft towers on picturesque Dava Moor.
A new photo-montage of the Cairn Duhie scheme has been created by Renewable Energy Systems (RES) as part of its application for 20 turbines on the site.
The computer image shows the development from the A939 Nairn-Tomintoul road, south of Ferness, with two of the 300ft turbines just visible behind trees.
However, the Cairn Duhie Action Group has branded the visualisation “ridiculous”.
Chairman Bill Evans said: “It appears that RES are attempting to hoodwink people into believing that the windfarm will become almost invisible from the road.”
The claim was “strongly refuted” by the company last night, with a spokeswoman insisting the image had been requested by council planners to show the view of the proposed scheme from a particular viewpoint.
However, the criticism is the latest in a series of controversies to hit the development, which has already attracted opposition from Moray Council, the Cairngorms National Park and the John Muir Trust.
Mr Evans added: “”It is ridiculous to suggest that 20 turbines each 300ft tall and as close as 100 yards from the road at places will simply disappear.
“In fact the wind farm will be the centre-piece of a curtain of steel that will embrace the Dava Moor and be visible for many miles in many directions.”
Moray Council objected to the development in February, with principal planning officer Angus Burnie saying it would be: “inappropriately sited and would have a significant adverse landscape and visual effect upon the Moray landscape”.
Dava Moor Way trustee Norman Thompson from Forres is also among the objectors.
He said: “The Dava Moor Way Association doesn’t have a view and has left it up to members to make their own minds up.
“I think I would be fair in saying though that the majority of people are against building a windfarm in such a prominent position.”
The turbines would be within the Highland Council area but close to the Moray border.
Highland Council is expected to give its verdict on the application early next year, but a final decision will be taken by the Scottish Government.
The scheme has received more than 1,500 objections, with people concerned that the turbines could spoil the nature of the moor.
Nairn-based Cairn Duhie Action Group member Dick Ruane said the new images would do nothing to allay people’s concerns.
“It is absolute nonsense to show that one point from low down at the side of the road and say that’s representative of what it will look like,” he said.
“The point is that if you move 10 yards further down the road then the view would be totally different.”
The RES Renewables spokeswoman said the montage viewpoint had been selected by Highland Council as part of preparations for the authority’s deliberations on the application.
She added: “The additional viewpoint on the A939 south of Ferness and specific location was requested by the Highland Council and prepared in accordance with their visualisation standards.
“From this section of the road, the windfarm would be screened by the trees with only a small number of the turbines visible.
“RES is pleased that the Cairn Duhie Action Group has recognised that our approach to sensitively designing Cairn Duhie has ensured that the project is screened from certain points along the A939 but we strongly refute any claims of ‘attempting to hoodwink people’ as Cairn Duhie is visible from other parts of the road, which the visualisations submitted with our application clearly show.”
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