A green energy firm has lost its battle to build a 14-turbine windfarm on an iconic Highland mountain.
PI Renewables wanted the Scottish Government to overturn Highland Council’s decision to reject its plans for the 377ft towers on the foothills of Ben Wyvis.
A public local inquiry was held at the end of August and the company brought in several experts to defend its proposals.
The plans involved erecting the masts on the southern slopes of the Ben Wyvis massif above Strathgarve Forest, about two miles north-east of Garve.
Highland Council blocked the scheme last year amid fears over the impact it would have on wild land.
PI Renewables appealed, and an inquiry was held ironically in the Ben Wyvis Hotel in the village of Strathpeffer.
The Scottish Government reporter Robert Maslin, who chaired the inquiry, said in his decision that the benefits of the proposed development were “not enough to outweigh the conflict with protecting landscape and safeguarding the character of areas of wild land”.
Yesterday the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCoS) welcomed the rejection.
David Gibson, the group’s chief executive, said: “We welcomed the original decision by Highland Council’s north planning committee to refuse permission and are clearly pleased that the reporter has dismissed the appeal.
“We hope that this decision sends a further strong message to those who seek to develop the area around Ben Wyvis in particular, and Scotland’s fantastic resource of wild land further afield.”
More than 100 objections were lodged against the scheme, including from government agency Scottish Natural Heritage, which gave evidence to the inquiry.
Objections were also made by the MCoS, the John Muir Trust, former sheriff principal for the north Sir Stephen Young and Earl of Cromartie John Mackenzie, chief of the Clan Mackenzie.
Meanwhile, the MCofS also called upon the council’s south planning committee to reject plans for a 13-turbine Culachy windfarm in a Wild Land Area near Fort Augustus, when it meets in Inverness today.
Lisa Miller, development manager at RES Ltd, the firm behind the scheme, defended the proposal.
“RES is delighted that the Highland Council has recommended approval of Culachy windfarm,” she said.
“RES has put in an enormous amount of work and time to ensure that the wind farm is well designed and received well locally.
“The overall visibility of the wind farm is very contained, specifically from Loch Ness and key areas in Fort Augustus. We are very hopeful that the south planning application committee will vote to approve the application so that the significant local economic and community benefits of the wind farm can be realised.”
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