Trust hails Highland councillors’ stand in defence of wild land

Planning committee objects to two controversial wind farm proposals while officials block another.

The John Muir Trust has welcomed the decision by Highland Council’s North Planning Committee to raise official objections against two large scale wind farm proposals that would disrupt wildlife and disfigure scenic landscapes in the Northern Highlands

During the debate, councillors voiced concern that the developments would have a detrimental impact on the landscape, on tourism and on sensitive peatlands.

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) have submitted a proposal for a 27-turbine wind farm at Dalnessie, 13km north of Lairg in Sutherland, while the Washington DC based AES Corporation have plans to erect a 34-turbine development at Glenmorie, 10km south of Bonar Bridge in Easter Ross.

Dalnessie is an important habitat for the rare and vulnerable black-throated diver population, while the Glenmorie development would be visible from the designated National Scenic Area around the Dornoch Firth, and from the slopes of Ben Wyvis, which is a Special Landscape Area.

Because the North Planning Committee is a statutory consultee, the decision means that the proposals will now have to face public inquiries.

The drive by energy corportaions to industrialise parts of the Highlands was dealt a further blow on the same day (February 12) when  planning officials announced they would be using their delegated to powers to block a further development at Clach Liath on the shoulder of Ben Wyvis.

With the Scottish Highlands fast becoming the focus of a new goldrush by energy corporations, the John Muir Trust has applauded this triple rebuff as a potential turning point in the battle to prevent the exploitation of scenic wild lands across the Highlands for profit.

Fraser Wallace, Policy Officer for the Trust said: “We warmly welcome this decision by local councillors and planners to stand up to the exploitation of wild landscapes and natural habitats. Wild land needs protection from commercial vandalism – for its own sake and for the sake of tourism which generates 14 per cent of all jobs in the Highlands.

“There is now a groundswell of opposition to the industrialisation of wild Highland landscapes, embracing a broad spectrum of residents, communities, businesses, conservationists, the outdoors community and local politicians."