A controversial wind farm has been approved by the Scottish Government despite almost 2000 objections.
The plans by RES UK and Ireland to build 20 110m turbines between Nairn and Grantown were given the green light despite an outcry from thousands of Highland residents, as well as Highland and Moray councils, Cairngorms National Park Authority, the John Muir Trust and community councils.
Those fighting the wind farm at Cairn Duchies, 1.5km south east of the village of Ferness, said it would destroy the stunning scenery and nature which attracts tourists, particularly the Dava Moors which has special landscape area (SLA) status and the Cairngorms National Park.
But after a process stretching four years and a public inquiry held in Grantown last March, Scottish ministers approved the plan.
Two campaign groups, Save Our Dava and Cairn Duhie Action Group, were set up to fight the wind farm, which will be built on 666 hectares of rough moorland, off the A939 between Nairn and Grantown, but Scottish Government-appointed reporter Dannie Onn said although there will be “significant landscape eects” it would “not be unacceptable”.
The report said: “Scottish ministers are satisfied that the applicant has done what it reasonably can to mitigate any eect on the natural beauty of the countryside or any such ora, fauna, features, sites, buildings or objects.
“There would be significant landscape eects at the site itself. The immediate setting of the SLA would be aected and at a well visited part of it.
“However, large areas would be untouched or would see the turbines in the context of other wind farm development within and around the SLA.
“For those driving across the moors I find that the proposed wind farm would not be unacceptable.
“There would be greater impact on parts of the Dava Way but in general the area is sparsely visited and the main areas of interest would not be unduly aected.
“In residential terms, the visual impacts on Kerrow and Braemory Lodge would be of greatest impact.
“Others would be aected but the total number is low, none would be so aected that the property would become an unattractive place to live.
“Benefits to the wind farm include its contribution towards government renewable energy targets and the economic benefit of jobs and other expenditure, particularly during construction.”
The plans attracted 1925 objections and 591 supporting statements.
Highland Council had objected on the basis of “significant adverse landscape and visual impacts” while the Cairngorms National Park Authority complained that it would add to the “ring of steel” surrounding the outskirts of the park as turbines are banned inside the park boundary.
The local authority’s south planning applications committee will be notified of the decision when it meets on Tuesday.
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