The decision to turn down plans for a wind farm on the edge of the world-renowned Glen Affric area, west of the Great Glen, has been welcomed as “positive news” by Scotland’s representative body for mountaineers and by the John Muir Trust.
This is one of the first decisions which has referred to the new Wild Land Areas map and Scottish Planning Policy and the ‘national importance’ of wild land.
But while this is a really significant decision, it may not set the binding precedent that environmentalists hope for.
The proposal by German developers WPD would have led to the construction of six turbines towering above the skyline, each 400 foot high, on the edge of one of Scotland’s most famous landscapes.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland has praised the Reporter’s dismissal of an appeal by developers after Highland Council failed to make a decision on the application for the Beinn Mhor Wind Farm – six wind turbines on land at Guisachan, near the village of Cannich.
The John Muir Trust also welcomed the decision by Scottish Government Reporter Richard Hickman to refuse permission for the Beinn Mhor wind farm on the edge of Glen Affric.
MCofS Chief Officer David Gibson said: ““We welcome the Reporter’s decision to dismiss the appeal and refuse planning permission, particularly his recognition that the safeguarding of wild land is a significant national objective.
“We are also pleased that he has accepted that this development would have had a serious adverse effect on the enjoyment of the wild land character of the area by recreational users.”
In a 38-page report explaining his reasons for the decision, the Reporter said the enjoyment of people walking along the mountains on the northern periphery of Glen Affric, a National Scenic Area, would be seriously affected.
He concluded: “The very modest contribution that would be made to renewable energy generation falls well short of justifying acceptance of the various significant adverse effects that would be caused to local residents, recreation visitors, the visual and wild land qualities of the ridge along the north side of Glen Affric and on Beinn Mhor itself.”
Helen McDade, Head of Policy for the John Muir Trust, said: “We warmly welcome this decision, which is a victory not just for those local communities who have campaigned strongly against the proposal, but also those of us who believe Scotland’s wild land is a precious national asset worthy of protection.
“It is significant that a substantial section of the decision focuses on wild land protection.
“We now also urge the Scottish Government to move swiftly to reject three other outstanding applications for much larger developments on wild land areas at Sallachy and Glencassley in Sutherland, and at Allt Duine on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park.”