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John Muir Trust sets out battle against Aberfeldy wind farm

Opponents of a massive Highland Perthshire wind farm have set out their case to the public.

Conservation charity the John Muir Trust has held an exhibition on the planned Crossburns development near Aberfeldy.

Renewables firm Engie, previously known as West Coast Energy, wants to install 25 turbines, each up to 377ft high, next to the existing Calliacher wind farm.

The scheme has been criticised by Perth and Kinross Council which claims it could have an “unacceptable and adverse” impact on Loch Rannoch and Tummel Bridge.

The Scottish Government will host a public inquiry in November to decide the project’s fate.

Objectors and developers will get the chance to put their arguments across at a hearing in Aberfeldy town hall.

In preparation, the John Muir Trust has hosted public exhibitions in Dunkeld and Aberfeldy, outlining their main objections.

Visitors got the chance to read through paperwork on the proposed wind farm and put any questions to John Muir Trust members.

In his letter of objection to Perth and Kinross Council, the trust’s policy officer John Low said: “We are seriously concerned about the cumulative impact of the proposed development.

“Scottish Natural Heritage’s own guidance on cumulative impact states that two wind farms ‘need not to be intervisible’ to have an impact. The John Muir Trust believes that the Crossburns wind farm would have significant and detrimental effect both in terms of combined visibility and sequential impact.”

He argued that it would “contribute to the further degradation of this landscape, resulting in negative socio-economic impact”.

Developers said the plans could provide £9.4 million of community funding over its 25-year lifetime.

In documents lodged with appeal officials, the company has argued that the scheme will help meet Scotland’s renewable targets.

Agents also stressed that the site is close to a road network capable of accommodating turbines of the scale proposed.

In its objection letter, Aberfeldy Community Council said the scheme was “not hugely controversial” and had been backed by local businesses, but the group has objected to the potential cumulative effect.

In 2014, councillors rejected plans for a seven turbine expansion of the Calliachar site, but developers secured planning permission following a successful appeal to Scottish Ministers in April.