Trust welcomes NTS support for Stronelairg challenge

National Trust for Scotland asks its 320,000 members to support John Muir Trust Stop Stronelairg campaign.

Scotland’s largest conservation charity, the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), has asked its 320,000 members to support the John Muir Trust’s campaign to stop the giant Stronelairg wind farm development in the Scottish Highlands.

The Trust is fighting to overturn a decision by the Government to allow a city-sized wind farm to be constructed in the Highlands – a decision that was made in the face of objections from the Government’s own advisors.

It is taking the case to the Court of Session in early 2015 with the objective of halting construction of the wind farm.

The NTS’s Chief Executive, Kate Mavor said: “Although the proposed wind farm is not directly adjacent to any of our properties, it will be visible from large swathes of the Cairngorms National Park and we are supporting this campaign on principle.

“We are not opposed to renewable energy developments by any means, so long as they are suitably located, are proportionate and subject to public scrutiny. We think there are serious questions to be answered about the way the Stronelairg wind farm was approved and what it might mean for Scotland’s wild lands.”

The NTS Director of Conservation Services and Projects, Terry Levinthal added: “The 67 turbines, up to 135 metres tall, will cover an area the size of Inverness within the Monadhliath Mountains, bounding a Special Area of Conservation.

“Ironically, their construction will require thousands of tonnes of steel and concrete to be placed on top of significant peatlands and their eco-systems. These act as a natural carbon ‘sink’, tying up greenhouse gasses that could otherwise accelerate climate change.

“We find it particularly disturbing that the Government’s own agency, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), and the Cairngorms National Park Authority both objected to the development yet their protests were ignored.

“It has also been suggested that SNH’s efforts to have Stronelairg added to the Wild Land Areas Map, which would have afforded a measure of protection from development, were stymied. Given the precedent this enormous wind farm may set, the implications for the conservation of wild land are deeply concerning.”

The Trust’s Chief Executive, Stuart Brooks, said: "The John Muir Trust campaign to stop the industrialisation of the Monadhliath Mountains has recieved a huge boost from the NTS's decision to lend its support.

“The NTS is speaking up on behalf of hundreds of thousands of people who care for wild places in Scotland. I hope others will now follow suit and call for protection of our priceless wild places. These should be cherished and passed to future generations, not squandered for short term profits.”

The NTS is contacting its membership by e-mail and social media. It is suggesting that help could be given to the campaign by writing to Ministers and MSPs and by making personal donations to the John Muir Trust’s legal fund.

The Trust’s request for a Protective Expenses Order was refused by the court which means that they could be liable for the Government’s and Scottish and Southern Energy’s costs if their legal action is unsuccessful.