The decision by Scottish ministers to reject plans for a 24-turbine wind farm on the edge of Rannoch Moor has been welcomed by the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS).
The scheme had previously been slammed as “insane” by the author of the hit TV series Outlander, which was filmed there.
The application to build the Talladh-a-bheithe wind farm, which would have included bulldozed access tracks, buildings and infrastructure, on an area of raised moorland between Loch Rannoch and Loch Ericht, was ruled “not competent” by ministers.
A letter issued by the Scottish Government’s energy and climate change directorate noted that the application was received on June 23, 2014, but that the applicant, Talladh-A-Bheithe Wind Farm Limited, was not registered as a company until August 28 that year.
MCofS director for landscape and access Dave Gordon said he was delighted to hear the news.
He said: “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 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 campaigned against the planning application because of the major visual impact of such a large scale development, which it argued was not necessary in order to meet Scottish Government objectives for renewable energy generation.
If given the go-ahead, it would have affected views from Schiehallion, the Ben Alder massif, the mountains above Glen Lyon and Loch Tay and some above the Drumochter Pass.
It would also have been visible from the main A82 Fort William to Inverness road on the far side of Rannoch Moor and from Buachaille Etive Mor beyond.
At the time, MCofS CEO David Gibson stated: “Any presumed benefit from this development would be far outweighed by the damage it would do to such a distinctive landscape, which is vital not only to highland Perthshire’s identity but also to Scotland’s international image.”
A massive campaign against the proposal involved local residents under the ‘Keep Rannoch Wild’ banner, the John Muir Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage and even American novelist Diana Gabaldon, whose ‘Outlander’ novels were filmed in the area for a hugely popular television series.
During the campaign, Ms Gabaldon said: “Frankly, given the undoubted economic value of tourism to Scotland, it seems insane to sacrifice one of its most scenic landscapes for the sake of an electrical pittance.”
Following the latest development, Talladh a Bheithe Estate issued a statement saying it had decided not to challenge the ministers’ decision to return its application.
The company said: “We are obviously disappointed and this decision has not been taken lightly, however, we would especially like to thank the people within the surrounding community who have supported the project to date.
“At this point, we cannot currently comment on possible future actions and developments relating to the project, but will carefully look at the project and associated constraints, and consider our options with a view to bringing forward a viable project in the future unsubsidised renewable energy world.”
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