Trust launches campaign to save North West Highlands Wild Land Area

The John Muir Trust has launched a campaign to save Wild Land Area 34 in Sutherland.

The John Muir Trust has launched a campaign to save Wild Land Area 34 in Sutherland, which has been targeted by three separate energy companies for large scale onshore wind farms.

Together, the three applications potentially threaten the Reay-Cassley Wild Land Area with a total of 65 turbines, each three times the height of the Skye Bridge, along with tens of miles of access roads and other infrastructure.

The Trust fears that if these developments are given the go-ahead, the entire Wild Land Areas map, agreed by the Scottish Government in June 2014, could be undermined.

Two of the applications – Glencassley and Sallachy – are now awaiting a decision by Energy Minister Fergus Ewing, while the third, Caplich, has still to be considered by Highland Council before eventually going to the Scottish Government.

The Trust’s Area 34 campaign includes a 100-second film which suggests that instead of “turbines, pylons and power lines” the area could be transformed into “a living landscape of trees, wildlife and people, with thriving local communities benefitting from year-round tourism.”

Stuart Brooks, Chief Executive of the John Muir Trust said: “Last year the Scottish Government took the historic step of adopting an official wild land map of Scotland, underpinned by a national planning strategy which explicitly states that these areas are ‘very sensitive to any form of intrusive human activity and have little or no capacity to accept new development’.

“These decisions by the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament had overwhelming public support as measured by two opinion polls and two public consultations.

“A decision by the Minister to reject Sallachy and Glencassley would not only save Wild Land Area 34, it would also send a clear message to developers that these areas are national assets that will be protected by the Scottish Government.

“That in turn will reduce future speculative applications, which are expensive and time-consuming for everyone involved.”

The decision by the Scottish Government in June 2014 to identify and protect wild land was welcomed by most environmental, landscape and outdoor organisations.

However, there is a backlog of previous applications. As well as those in Area 34, Allt Duine, which is in Wild Area 20 (Monadhliath), is also awaiting a decision by the Scottish Government.