Highly controversial plans for a giant Perthshire windfarm, which were branded “insane” by Outlander author Diana Gabaldon, have been rejected by Scottish ministers.
The proposed 24-turbine Talladh-a-bheithe development at Rannoch Moor was widely criticised amid fears it could hit Scotland’s tourism economy.
Gabaldon made headlines when she criticised VisitScotland for including the site on a tourist trail map for fans of her Outlander series.
The 63-year-old said: “It seems insane to sacrifice one of (Scotland’s) most scenic landscapes for the sake of an electrical pittance.”
The scheme, proposed by Netherland-based Eventus BV, had also been opposed by a cross-party committee of politicians and described as a “knife in the heart of Scotland’s beauty” by conservationists the John Muir Trust.
Now, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) has revealed that the bid has been ruled “not competent” by ministers.
A letter issued by the Scottish Government’s Energy and Climate Change Directorate noted that the application was lodged on June 23, 2014. However, the applicant, listed as Talladh A Bheithe Wind Farm Ltd, was not registered as a company until later that year, on August 28.
Dave Gordon, director for landscape and access at MCofS, said he was delighted by the ministers’ decision.
“Although the decision was based on a specific legal point, which meant that the application was not competent, many people thought the very idea of a wind farm in such an unspoilt area was incompetent.
“We hope that Rannoch is now free forever from the threat of wind turbines and does not have to suffer repeated applications, as many communities have.”
The MCofS had campaigned against the planning application, claiming that it would have a harmful visual impact on the iconic moorland between Loch Rannoch and Loch Ericht.
The group said that, if approved, the turbines would have affected views from Schiehallion, the Ben Alder massif, the mountains above Glen Lyon and Loch Tay.
Perth and Kinross Council took the unusual step of issuing a holding objection against the application.
The local authority’s development management planning officer John Russell said that outstanding environmental information should have been submitted in February.
“As this was not forthcoming, the planning authority has not been able to finalise a report to committee,” he said.
Fans of hit TV show Outlander knew Rannoch Moor as the site where time-traveller Claire mysteriously vanished amongst a set of standing stones.
The Scottish Government recently revealed a huge surge in visitors on the back of the success of Gabaldon’s books and TV show.
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