Motorists are facing five weeks of major disruption on busy Highland roads as huge turbine parts begin making their way to a hugely controversial windfarm site.
A convoy of three lorries carrying abnormal wide loads will travel twice a day from the port of Inverness to the Tom nan Clach site, about five miles east of Tomatin on the Dava Moor.
Lorries under police escort will travel south down the A9 Inverness-Perth road, turning off at the A95 Granish junction and heading north through the villages of Dulnain Bridge and Duthil before taking the B9007 road to the site entrance.
The first of the 35-mile journeys leaves today at 10.30am while the second is at 1.30pm, with timings after the first week subject to change.
A spokeswoman for Infinergy says the wind turbine manufacturer, Vestas, “hopes to avoid transporting loads on Sundays.”
But local anti-windfarm campaigner, Pat Wells, said: “I think the disruption to travel just adds to the impact of the whole development.”
The 13-turbine Infinergy scheme, which has drawn vociferous objections in the past for its visual impact on a scenic and historic area, is expected to go operational early next year – nearly a decade after plans were first submitted.
The 410ft-high towers will be erected near the former island lair of the notorious Wolf of Badenoch on Lochindorb, between Grantown and Nairn.
Mrs Wells, who has fought the Tom nan Clach plans from the start, added: “Environmentally, this project is a disaster for the Dava Moor and for the whole area.
“It’s an area that should never have been allowed to be developed for a windfarm because it’s an iconic place.”
Initial plans for a 17-turbine windfarm at the site were submitted in June 2009 but councillors rejected the scheme.
A public inquiry followed in August 2011, with Scottish Government ministers consenting the project in July 2013.
But in 2015 Infinergy, in partnership with the Earl of Cawdor, submitted a further application for a lesser number of taller turbines on the basis that technological advances would allow it to produce 26% more power than originally thought.
Councillors once again rejected the revised proposals but ministers again approved it.
A spokeswoman for Infinergy said their current calculations suggest the windfarm would power up to 29,500 homes.
The spokeswoman added: “The convoys will be managed by a police escort.
“The transport haulier will liaise closely with the police to minimise any disruption, avoiding peak times as far as possible.
“The police will monitor tailbacks and the convoy will pull over at suitable sections of road to allow traffic to pass.”
The spokeswoman added that all timings are subject to change and that a text messaging update service is available by texting TNC to 80818.
Yesterday another local anti-windfarm campaigner, Lyndsey Ward, described the scheme as a “shameful development” which “should never have been approved”.
She said it would “devastate” one of the most iconic and historic Highland landscapes.
And she added: “Now, saddened communities will have to watch as huge turbine parts are transported along Highland roads that were never built for such traffic to the area they tried so hard to protect.”
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