Environmentalists today claim that the Scottish Government has now given permission to so many huge commercial developments in the Monadhliath Mountains that the quality of their landscape and value as a destination for walkers, climbers and other visitors ‘will be destroyed’.
And the Mountaineering Council of Scotland adds that – if approved by Highlands Council, Coriolis Energy’s recent application for the Dell wind farm at Whitebridge would place a further 13 turbines along the western side of the Monadhliath.
Together with existing consents, the development would mean that turbines will stretch for around 30 miles – from north of the A9 to the Corrieyairack Pass – where it will rare to be more than three miles from a wind farm and their unsightly service roads.
While the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) says these developments already herald the ruin of the western Monadhliath as a mountain resource, there is a ray of hope at the east where a decision is still awaited on the Allt Duine wind farm application.
David Gibson, MCofS Chief Officer, said: “This vast area of the Monadhliath has largely been sacrificed to the profits of big power companies, wind farm developers and major landowners.
“The Scottish Government has recently been claiming that it is a champion of the natural environment which it regards as a ‘valued national asset’ while simultaneously giving permission for a whole string of industrial scale developments that will wreck the character of a fabulous area of the highlands.
“The extent of the damage will become clear over the next few years as the massed ranks of turbines which have been given the go ahead are built and overwhelm the wild lands which have been valued for so long for their remoteness, wildlife and beauty.
“The local economies in these areas depend heavily on those who go there to walk, climb or relax in open countryside, but this is all at risk as visitors will go elsewhere.
“For the west of the Monadhliath it is already too late, politicians have allowed money and powerful corporate interests to triumph over the Scottish people and their natural heritage.
“To the east there is one final chance for Scottish Government Ministers to save a fragment of this area by rejecting the proposals for the massive Allt Duine wind farm which threatens the Cairngorms National Park.
“That is the choice facing John Swinney MSP right now – it’s his decision whether Allt Duine proceeds or not – and this is his opportunity to live up to Scottish Government claims that it wishes to protect national parks – let’s hope it isn’t squandered.”
The MCofS has objected to around one in 20 wind farm applications – those which threaten Scotland’s mountains and rapidly dwindling wild lands. It does not tend to object where these would not be harmed or where the destruction is already overwhelming.
The MCofS is the only recognised representative organisation for hill walkers, climbers and ski-tourers who live in Scotland or who enjoy Scotland’s mountains. It is a not-for-profit membership organisation with 12,400 members.
The MCofS also acts for the 75,000 members of the British Mountaineering Council on matters related to Landscape and Access in Scotland.
Scottish Planning Policy, para 193. “The natural environment forms the foundation of the spatial strategy set out in National Planning Framework 3. The environment is a valued national asset offering a wide range of opportunities for enjoyment, recreation and sustainable economic activity. Planning plays an important role in protecting, enhancing and promoting access to our key environmental resources, whilst supporting their sustainable use.”