Campaigners have blasted the Scottish Government decision to approve plans for a windfarm extension near Loch Ness.
Developers Falck Renewables will build ten more towers beside their 26-turbine Millenium windfarm even as campaigners claim that the developments are practically useless.
The new extension, approved in March last year, will power more than 20,000 homes but anti-windfarm campaigners have blasted the plans for the extension as “absolute lunacy”.
The local communities have complained about the impact on the landscape around the loch as the towers will be added to what is already known as a “ring of steel” on the banks.
But that is the least of the campaigners’ worries.
Concerns were raised about the extension to the renewable scheme, the third since it was first built, when it was discovered that there was no grid capacity for the developments.
Campaigner Stuart Young has revealed that since 2011 Falck Renewables received around £11 million in “constraint” payments to the national grid to switch off their turbines.
The payment was made to stop the turbines from producing electricity in order to balance supply with demand on the grid.
Mr Young said that the constraints on wind generators and the loss of their renewable subsidy when the turbines are turned off makes windfarms more expensive to run than oil and gas.
Stuart said: “This Scottish Government is intent on covering this country with windfarms which are just not needed.
“It’s absolute lunacy constructing windfarms that are not required and to pay more for them not to generate electricity than they would earn while generating.
“This money goes on to people’s electricity bills, and it goes on to the baker’s electricity bill and it will be added on to the price of a loaf of bread.”
Fellow campaigner Lyndsey Ward added: “It’s absolutely ludicrous that they are going ahead with these developments without the grid capacity for them.”
Stuart added: “Most of these developments around Loch Ness still have to be constructed.
“It’s certainly the case here that you won’t be able to move very far without sight of a windfarm and it will be a different one each time.
“You won’t be able to escape them. They are sprinkled all over the place.”
Paul Wheelhouse, minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, said the project will create 40 to 50 full time equivalent jobs during construction and generate up to £4 million in community benefit, split equally between local communities.
But council leader Margaret Davidson said that the community were against the decision to extend the Falck Renewables windfarms further.
She said: “It’s a cumulative effect issue. And these new turbines are bigger than the ones that are already there.
“The Scottish Government should not be overturning a local decision lightly.
“They say it’s on policy grounds, but over provision in an area and impact on landscape results in our interpretation being that this is a step too far.”
Toni Volpe, CEO of Falck Renewables, said the decision reflects the Scottish Government’s commitment to realising Scotland’s potential as a centre for clean and green energy.
He added: “This wind farm extension will also support local community projects, help Scotland meet its energy targets and include measures to protect breeding birds and the environment.”