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John Muir Trust fears ‘rehashed’ Aberfeldy turbine plan

A leading conservation charity has warned that windfarm plans for Highland Perthshire will damage tourism in “the scenic heart of Scotland”.

The John Muir Trust has lodged an objection to the proposed Crossburns Wind Farm above Aberfeldy.

Consultation on the 25-turbine development closed last week, with a number of key opponents coming forward to join individual members of the community.

The trust believes the scheme would have unacceptable short and long-term impacts upon the landscape and major national attractions, such as the Rob Roy Way and Schiehallion.

The Crossburns scheme is so significant that, under current legislation, it has bypassed consideration by Perth and Kinross Council and been placed directly before the Scottish Ministers.

Developer West Coast Energy, through its subsidiary, Crossburns Windfarm Ltd, believes the site to be “an appropriate location for significant renewable energy generation”.

It has also trumpeted a community fund that could be worth as much as £9 million during the lifespan of the windfarm, which could power 37,000 homes each year.

Opponents such as the John Muir Trust have, however, warned that Highland Perthshire is being swamped by windfarm developments.

The trust’s head of policy, Helen McDade, said the Crossburns plan would force the rerouting of the Rob Roy Way during the 18-month construction phase and would be a permanent visual blight on a 20km stretch of the popular footpath.

The charity also owns and manages the eastern slope and summit of Schiehallion and fears that Crossburns could have a damaging visual impact on the iconic peak.

With two major wind developments spread across the landscape of Highland Perthshire – Griffin and Calliachar – there are already 82 turbines visible from the mountain on a clear day.

Together with three other pending applications, the proposal could ultimately lead to a further 54 turbines in “a landscape already littered with pylons and turbines”.

Urging Perth and Kinross Council to join the list of objectors, Ms McDade said: “Highland Perthshire is already making a major contribution to renewable energy targets through hydro schemes and windfarms and 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.”

She described the latest proposal on Urlar Estate as “a rehash of a failed application that was withdrawn following two public local inquiries in 2004 and 2007”.