Following his decision on to approve a giant wind farm on wild land, Stuart Brooks, Chief Executive of the John Muir Trust has written to Fergus Ewing MSP, Scottish Energy Minister to detail their concerns.
The John Muir Trust is a UK conservation charity dedicated to protecting wild places. It owns and care for some of the UK’s finest wild landscapes including Ben Nevis, Schiehallion, Sandwood Bay, Quinag in Assynt, part of the Cuillin on Skye and 3,000 acres on the remote Knoydart peninsula.
Founded in 1983, the Trust takes its inspiration from John Muir (1838-1914), the Scots-born founder of the modern conservation movement. Like Muir, the Trust believes in protecting wild land for its own sake – and because we believe wild places are essential for people and wildlife.
Below, we carry the text of the Trust’s letter of concern to Ewing:
I am writing to you regarding your announcement of Scottish Government approval for the planning application for the Stronelairg wind development. You will understand that the Trust is very disappointed by this announcement.
For a number of reasons, we believe that a Public Local Inquiry is the only reasonable way that this development could be adequately assessed.
First, because of its sheer scale: this wind farm is the biggest ever in the mainland Highlands, with 67 turbines spread over an area the size of Inverness.
Second, it will have, according to the Scottish Government, “a significant impact on the wildness qualities of (the) Search Area for Wild Land (SAWL)”, while Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) are of the opinion that “there would be significant adverse effects to the extent that the SAWL would no longer be considered wild land”. We think it highly likely that a different decision would have resulted in light of all the evidence brought forward to such a public examination by objectors and expert witnesses.
Furthermore, given that Stronelairg is located within Area 17 of the proposed Core Areas of Wild Land map, currently being considered by the Scottish Government, along with the National Planning Framework 3, and the Scottish Planning Policy 2, we are left with the impression that the timing of this announcement has been deliberately planned to pre-empt these national decisions.
The Scottish Government has, over the last 18 months, demonstrated a direction of travel towards protecting wild land for the public benefit. Public opinion polls have supported this position, and we now look to the Scottish Government to ensure that words are turned into action, and that wild land receives robust protection from industrialisation.
Given the strong interest in this case from our supporters and the wider public we have decided to publish this letter on our website. We would be happy to share your response in a similar fashion.