A conservation charity has appealed to Highland councillors to change their minds on plans for two controversial windfarms in Sutherland.
The Scottish Government is asking the local authority to review its previous response on the Glencassley and Sallachy windfarms near Lairg in light of their pronouncements on wild land areas.
The two developments lie within one of the newly designated wild areas.
SSE Renewables’ Glencassley scheme involves around 23 turbines near Rosehall, while WKN AG’s plans for Sallachy comprise 22 devices near Loch Shin.
In May last year, the council’s north planning committee agreed not to object to the proposals.
But the committee has been asked to look again at its decision because of the release of the wild lands map.
It will meet tomorrow to reassess its decision in light of the new information. Planning officials have recommended maintaining their original stance.
However, the John Muir Trust (JMT) has written to members of the committee asking them to raise objections.
JMT policy officer, John Low said that if approved, turbines “each three times the height of the Skye Bridge, would be scattered across an area officially mapped and defined as wild land”.
He added: “The integrity of the entire Wild Land Areas map would be compromised, and the commitments to wild land protection in the National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy would be rendered worthless.”
“We are now urging councillors to reconsider both applications in the light of the spirit and content of new national planning policy and guidance.”
But last night, an SSE Renewables said: “We expect committee members to now objectively consider the recommendation by their planners – which is to make no further representation on this project.”
Oliver Patent, Head of Development UK, said: “In relation to wild land, the new SPP does not designate wild land but instead allows it to be considered alongside all other material planning considerations. The new SPP retains the flexibility for the planning authority (in this case Highland Council and the Scottish Government) to judge each application on its own merits and to come to a final view based on the economic and social benefits of the project.”
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