A conservation charity says a planned windfarm in the Perthshire Highlands would blight one of Scotland’s long-distance trails.
The John Muir Trust is objecting to the proposal to build a 25-turbine development across the Rob Roy Way.
West Coast Energy subsidiary Crossburns Windfarm has applied for permission to build the windfarm 4km (2½ miles) south-west of Aberfeldy. Its turbines would be 115m (377ft) high.
The trust said, if approved, this section of the Rob Roy Way, considered one of the highlights of the entire walk, will be re-routed during the estimated 18-month construction period.
Once built, the turbines would be visible for 20km (12 miles) of the 151km (94-mile) walk. The most affected would be those sections between Glen Quaich and Urlar, and between Aberfeldy and Dunfallandy Hill, it said.
The Rob Roy Way, one of Scotland’s 26 Great Trails promoted walking and cycling routes, is named after the Jacobite and outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor who used the route to evade his pursuers between 1713 and 1725. The trail passes though Balquhidder where Rob Roy is buried.
Helen McDade, head of policy for the John Muir Trust said: “Rob Roy would be turning in his grave at the thought that the landscape he roamed and loved is now seen as ripe for exploitation by energy companies and landowners.
“Scotland’s Great Trails are supposed to offer an escape from the modern world rather than a stroll through industrial parkland.
“Highland Perthshire is already making a major contribution to renewable energy targets through hydro schemes and windfarms. But we are concerned that we are now reaching tipping point.
“These industrial developments are being driven by renewable energy subsidies with no regard for local communities, or our precious landscapes upon which much of the local tourism-based economy depends.”
The trust said, with two major windfarms already spread across the Highland Perthshire landscape – Griffin and Calliachar – there are already 82 installed turbines visible from Schiehallion, which it owns and manages.
“If Crossburns and three other applications in the pipeline were to be approved the number of turbines in the part of Highland Perthshire would rise to 136,” it said.
Crossburns Windfarm said its submission follows a long period of technical and environmental evaluation and public consultation, which ended with an exhibition held at Aberfeldy Town Hall. It said these processes and discussions with statutory consultees have led to the revision of the scheme in terms of turbine numbers and height and to the formal submission to the Scottish Government.
“Local communities in the area will directly benefit from the generation of renewable energy, as West Coast Energy has proposed that the local community would receive a guaranteed annual payment of £5,000 for each megawatt of installed generation capacity, index-linked for the operational lifetime of the development, and in line with the current recommendations of the Scottish Government,” it said.
Steve Salt, planning and public affairs director at West Coast Energy, said: “The results of the environmental impact assessment indicate that the site is an appropriate location for significant renewable energy generation and we look forward to a continued engagement with the community as the application progresses through the consenting process.
The Rob Roy Way runs between Drymen and Pitlochry. The affected leg between Ardtalnaig and Amulree is one of two possible routes. The other follows the southern shore of Loch Tay.
Organisers of the Rob Roy Way estimate that about 3,000 people walk the trail each year.
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