A Danish billionaire who owns nearly a dozen estates in Scotland is taking on the Scottish Government in a battle over a major wind farm battle that threatens the view from his land.
Anders Povlsen is launching a judicial review into the decision to allow a controversial wind farm in Sutherland.
Mr Povlsen is angry the Government has given permission for the wind farm on the Altnaharra estate, owned by Jim Gray, 82, the founder of the Gray & Adams transport company, in Fraserburgh.
A “local” petition that was used to back the controversial wind farm was said to have been hijacked by people from Doncaster, Dunfermline and Fraserburgh.
Gray & Adams also has branches in Dunfermline and Doncaster.
Opposition politicians have demanded the Government reconsiders its decision to approve the 22-turbine Creag Riabhach development because local support for the project was one of the main arguments considered by ministers before they gave permission for the project.
Creag Riabhach was approved two months ago by Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse, despite being partially located on wild land. It is the first wind farm to have been approved in a designated wild land area since the Government adopted a revised planning framework in 2014.
The new rules are designed to protect the country’s most rugged and beautiful landscapes, but Mr Wheelhouse justified his contentious decision by saying the project had “popular support from the local community council and public alike”.
Now Mr Povlsen’s Wildland Ltd has confirmed it is seeking a judicial review of the decision and is lodging its appeal with the Court of Session. The Creag Riabhach turbines, each up to 270ft high, will be visible from several of Mr Povlsen’s properties.
Thomas MacDonell, director of conservation for Wildland Limited, said: “We are concerned about the proliferation of wind farms in the area. We have applied for a judicial review. How they got permission for that wind farm God only knows.
“The turbines are definitely in the wrong place. We think there are contradictions with the Government [policies] over this. We feel it’s an industrialisation of our precious land.
“Our passion for our land-holdings in Scotland is to maintain their wild and natural beauty.”
Mr MacDonell said Mr Povlsen was not against wind farms. But the Altnaharra decision had “inconsistencies” and, if successful, the review could decide to start the consent process again.
He said: “If the consent stands we will consider our investment strategy in that part of the world. It would change the whole atmosphere of that area. It is possible we could pull out of that part of the world,” he added.
Analysis of an Altnaharra community petition in support of the development showed local approval was insignificant compared to blocs of support in other places, all of them hundreds of miles away from the proposed site of the turbines.
A Government spokesman said: “The application for Creag Riabhach received strong support from the local community council in Altnaharra.”