Casework update: Navidale wind farm, Sutherland

Trust welcomes Highland Council planning committee's refusal of application to construct a wind farm in northern Wild Land Area

Morven by walk highlands detail

In December 2017 we objected to an application to build a wind farm in Wild Land Area 36 near Helmsdale, Sutherland. We are pleased to see North Planning Applications Committee, Highland Council, has refused the application, due to the anticipated landscape and visual impact, the impact on the Causeymire and Knockfin Wild Land Area and damage to nationally-important peatlands and blanket bog.

Mel Nicoll, the John Muir Trust’s Campaigns Co-ordinator said:- “This wind farm would have been sited in an area recognised by Scottish Natural Heritage for its “Awe inspiring simplicity of wide open peatland from which rise isolated, arresting, steep mountains.”  These include Morven and Maiden Pap, to the north of the wind farm site. It’s good to know that the importance of the wild qualities of this area have been recognised, including its role in locking up carbon in deep peat, and showing how places like this deliver important, multiple benefits.”

Scotland’s wild land is an asset of national and international significance but it is a finite resource. Wild land plays a vital role for carbon storage in trees and peatland, gives us clean air, water and food and is home to valuable wildlife. Wild land also plays a vital role in supporting tourism and a wide range of other economic and leisure activities.

We are committed to policy principles which support the current targets of the UK Government and devolved governments for greenhouse gas emissions reduction as these are the primary public policy tools directed at climate change mitigation. But we don’t think it is right to build industrial-scale wind energy developments on wild land or developments that would impact adversely on wild land. 

The Council's report of handling of the application notes that Helmsdale Community Council "refrained from responding. Community divided." Brora Community Council did not object but raised concerns about "impact as viewed from Brora golf course, the interests of the Loch Fleet, Loch Brora and Glen Loth Special Landscape Area and generally the need to keep the East Sutherland hills/coastline free of wind farm development."

Read the Highland Council decision letter here (planning reference number 17/02436/FUL) https://wam.highland.gov.uk/wam/applicationDetails.do?keyVal=OQCOYRIH0C200&activeTab=summary

Read the Trust’s original objection here https://www.johnmuirtrust.org/about/resources/1182-objection-to-navidale-wind-farm

Read more about the Causeymire and Knockfin Wild Land Area here https://www.nature.scot/sites/default/files/2017-11/Consultation-response-Description-of-Wild-Land-Causeymire-Knockfin-Flows-July-2016-36.pdf

Image shows Morven, courtesy of Trust supporters Walk Highlands