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Power firm goes to appeal over Loch Ness windfarm decision

An energy company is appealing a decision by Highland Council to reject a controversial windfarm near Loch Ness.

The scheme had prompted the local authority’s leader to declare “enough is enough” because of the cumulative impact of turbines.

There was cross-party opposition to the 12-turbine Aberarder project proposed for the south side of the loch, despite a steer from council planning officers that no objection should be raised.

Council leader Margaret Davidson told colleagues in April that she had come round to agreeing with seasoned campaigners who had fought for years to halt the spread of the so-called Loch Ness “monsters” sprouting up on nearby hillsides.

The applicant RES has appealed to the Scottish Government. A public inquiry hosted by a government appointed reporter will follow.

Jim Treasurer of the Friends of the Great Glen, which sponsored the Save Loch Ness and the Great Glen petition to halt the spread of windfarms within a 22-mile radius of the loch, was disappointed.

He said: “I notice the decision for the appeal is they thought the area was only ‘rolling countryside’.

“That implies there’s no intrinsic landscape value, which is incorrect.

“It is within the 22-mile range. That route is used to a considerable degree by tourists, it’s a busy road and visitors would see this development.

“Our argument was that it is near Dunmaglass Windfarm. This is our evidence of unsuitable cumulative over-development in that area.”

Pat Wells, another local and long-term anti windfarm campaigner, said: “If we had the democratic system enjoyed south of the border, where communities have a real say, this decision would stand and it would not risk being overruled by an unelected government employee.”

John Appleton, project development manager for RES, said: “Aberarder is a carefully and sensitively designed windfarm which sits well within the landscape and was recommended for approval by Highland Council (officers).

“We have reviewed the reasons for refusal and submitted an appeal which we’re confident will find Aberarder to be a well sited and appropriate proposal for the area.”

More than 500 giant turbines are currently planned for hills within 22 miles of Loch Ness – most of which have already been built.