Trust welcomes SSE decision to ditch wild land wind farm

Energy giant SSE to abandon its plans for a 27-turbine wind farm at Dalnessie near Lairg.

The John Muir Trust has welcomed the decision by energy giant SSE to abandon its plans for a 27-turbine wind farm at Dalnessie near Lairg in Sutherland.

The Trust had lodged an objection to the application on the grounds that it was in a search area for wild land.

Since then it has been incorporated into the Core Areas of Wild Land recently mapped by Scottish Natural Heritage.

The development was also opposed by Highland Council’s North Planning Application Committee.

But now SSE has issued a statement saying that the proposed wind farm, along with another at Fairburn in Easter Ross, is no longer financially viable.

Helen McDade, head of policy at the John Muir Trust said: “This is a major U-turn by SSE and a victory for those who want to see Scotland’s wild land protected against large-scale, industrial-style development.

“This wind farm would have involved not just the erection of dozens of turbines, but the excavation of thousands of tonnes of rock and the construction of tens of miles of access roads on a spectacular wild landscape.

“SSE was well aware that it faced formidable opposition from a broad coalition of local residents and businesses, conservationists, and outdoors organisations.

“Whatever the official reason given for this decision, we would like to think the company will now think more strategically about where they site onshore wind farms.

“This was an unsuitable development that should never have been brought forward in the first place. It has wasted a huge amount of time, effort and money, with councillors, planning officials, local communities, environmentalists and SSE itself all involved in the process.

“This reinforces the need for the core wild land map developed by SNH to be incorporated into the Scottish National Planning Framework, to provide clarity for developers, councils and planning officials and to discourage speculative and time consuming applications.”