The Mountaineering Council of Scotland is urging Highlands Council to reject a bid by Culachy Estate to overturn planning conditions on a section of the controversial Beauly-Denny power line.
The estate, near Fort Augustus, is seeking planning approval to make permanent five miles of temporary access track and two bridges, running almost parallel to the historic Wade Military Road through the Corrieyairack Pass in the Monadhliath.
The track is part of the access road for construction of the power line given approval after a long battle between developers Scottish Hydro-Electric (part of SSE) and conservationists. Permission was granted on the condition that it be removed once construction of the line was complete.
Now Culachy Estate has sought permission to make a section of the track permanent ‘to enable the expansion of sporting activities’ on the estate. However, it is known that the estate is also seeking permission for a large wind farm in the area.
David Gibson, Chief Executive, Mountaineering Council, said: “It is an utter disgrace that a national planning condition – especially one imposed after such a contentious planning process – can be so eroded by piecemeal applications to local planning authorities.”
“The impact of the construction tracks on the landscape was a central concern at the public inquiry into the Beauly-Denny line.
“This track is highly visible from Wade’s road and the surrounding hills – a popular area for walkers. The area is already affected by the power line and the presence of the track adds to the impact on the landscape.
“Whilst it was argued that the power line is in the national interest, no such argument can be made by the estate for the track, which extends into an area designated as wild land.
“It is the duty of Highland Council planners to reject the application.”
But Scott Bremner, Head Game Keeper, Culachy Estate said: “Culachy Estate has applied for planning permission to retain a five mile section of the Beauly-Denny access track in an improved state – separate to the Culachy Wind Farm application.
“The track has proven very beneficial to the Estate and has enabled us to facilitate much-needed improvements and protection to sections of the Corrieyairack Pass and General Wades Military Road, further develop sporting and recreational activities, as well as improved deer management
“This will help us expand the business on the Estate which we believe will bring positive effects for the local economy and employment.”