A massive statue of a golden eagle could soon have a bird’s eye view of a controversial wind farm which campaigners claim could kill protected birds.
The 12ft bronze sculpture was commissioned by the owner of the Glendoe Estate in tribute to a sensitive hydro scheme in the area, the biggest in Scotland in decades and operated by energy giants SSE.
But ironically, SSE now plans a controversial 67-turbine Stronelairg wind farm close by, and critics say the statue will be overlooking the scheme which they fear will kill golden eagles.
The statue, made by Boat of Garten artist Tom Mackie, was commissioned by Veronica Hargreaves, of the Glendoe Estate, who has since died.
The golden eagle artwork is thought to be the UK’s highest wildlife sculpture, at 2,500 feet above sea level.
Mr Mackie said: “I feel that having 67 turbines there would totally destroy the place. Apart from being unsightly, they could be a hazard to the eagles’ natural habitat.”
Mrs Hargreaves daughter Alex Stewart-Carter said her mother would be upset by the latest development at Stronelairg.
The scheme has been consented by the Scottish Government in June but is subject to a legal challenge by the John Muir Trust.
Helen McDade, head of policy at the conservation charity John Muir Trust, said: “If this wind farm goes ahead the Glendoe eagle could be gazing over the biggest and ugliest wind farm in the Highlands – an alien forest of menacing steel turbines surrounded by pylons, transmission lines and bulldozed access roads.
“We did not object to the Glendoe reservoir. We felt it was an example of a sensittively designed energy scheme, the type of landscape where golden eagles could still have a place.”
The Scottish Wild Land Group, who also objected to the Stronelairg project, said: “This will have consequences for the wildlife of the area.
“In particular, the potential for further damage to golden eagle populations is great.”
Alex Stewart-Carter, an artist herself, said her mother would be distressed by the wind farm plans.
She added: “These turbines will destroy the integrity of the landscape – after all the trouble that was taken during the work on the dam to preserve the area and its wildlife.
“As a landscape artist, it became a constant sadness and frustration to see turbines popping up all over the countryside.
“Personally I believe the better way would be to invest the money spent on windfarms on finding an alternative source of energy that does not alter so drastically the beautiful countryside w e have.”
SSE has promised a £30million windfall for the area over 25 years.
A spokesman said: “The Stronelairg windfarm proposal is currently subject to a legal process.”
Its website states it had “taken care to minimise impact to the environment.”
Highland Council raised to objection to the plans.
However, the John Muir Trust has lodged a petition at the Court of Session in Edinburgh and a judicial review is expected to be heard next month.
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