Highland councillors have rejected plans for a wind speed mast in the hills above Loch Ness.
Members of the authority’s south planning committee voted against the 164ft mast, which was set to be built on Aberarder Estate within the Monadhliath mountain range south of Inverness.
Council leader Margaret Davidson led calls to reject the plans, raising concern about its “inappropriate height and scale”, adding that it would be “significantly detrimental to the landscape”.
The mast is linked to an application to build 12 wind turbines, each 426ft high, to make up the Aberarder windfarm near Croachy.
Developer RES said it is “very disappointed” with the decision and intends to appeal to the Scottish Government.
They added that they will press on with plans for the windfarm, which will sit alongside the already consented 33 turbine Dumnaglass project.
Six separate objections were lodged against the plans, as well as a representation from Strathnairn Community Council.
RES previously revealed plans to offer community broadband through the mast – but the community council called this “erroneous” because permission for the mast would only be temporary for two years.
Planning committee member Councillor Jim Crawford also hit out at the offer.
He said: “Local broadband is nothing short of a bribe to the community.”
The committee were told that they had to consider the plans on their own merits, and not in connection with the wider windfarm plans which are due to come before councillors later this year.
Mrs Davidson said: “I’m trying to look at it on it’s own grounds and it’s entirely inappropriate.”
She added: “It’s an alien, completely inappropriate erection in an area of wild land.”
RES project manager Heather Donald said: “RES is very disappointed at the decision by the Highland Council to refuse permission for a met mast at the proposed Aberarder Wind Farm.
“As part of our commitment to the local community and in response to feedback received during our consultation RES had hoped to facilitate local broadband via the met mast.
“A free trial was due to go ahead this summer, but the council decision means this is extremely unlikely.
“This will be very frustrating for local residents in Strathnairn who would have welcomed the local broadband service.”
She added: “RES intends to submit an appeal against the refusal and we will be continuing with the development of Aberarder Wind Farm.”
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