Mountaineers are fighting a wind farm proposal which threatens the iconic wild landscape of Rannoch, spoiling views from many popular mountains including Schiehallion and the tourist route to Glencoe and the western highlands.
The Talladh-a-Bheithe wind farm, on the estate of the same name located just to the north-east of Rannoch Moor, is being proposed at the very moment when the Scottish Government is getting serious about protecting the best of our country’s wild land.
The development would sit within an area identified as being of ‘nationally important environmental interest’ under Scottish Planning Policy, which calls for ‘significant protection’ from development for such areas.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) is calling on Ministers to refuse the planning application because of the major visual impact of such a large scale development and because it is not necessary in order to meet Scottish Government objectives for renewable energy generation.
The MCofS has also appealed to its own members to object to the plans, and has set up a webpage where they can get information and advice on how to do so.
Talladh-a-Bheithe Wind Farm Ltd has applied for permission to build 24 wind turbines, each 125 metres tall, together with the associated bulldozed access tracks, buildings and infrastructure, on an area of raised moorland between Loch Rannoch and Loch Ericht. If given the go-ahead, it would affect views from Schiehallion, the Ben Alder massif, the mountains above Glen Lyon and Loch Tay and some above the Drumochter Pass. It would even be visible from the main A82 on the far side of Rannoch Moor and from Buachaille Etive Mor beyond.
David Gibson, MCofS Chief Officer, said:
“We support the Scottish Government’s drive to develop renewable energy in all its forms and have welcomed the new planning policy which aims to balance the need for renewable energy with significant protection for Wild Land. This proposal presents Ministers with the opportunity to prove they are serious about protecting our most precious wild landscapes.
“Schiehallion, Rannoch Moor and the route to Glencoe all have a very special place in people’s hearts and in Scottish culture, and this proposal would affect an area which has a unique landscape character offering panoramic views over a fantastic area of wild land.
“It is a stunning landscape vista which is very sensitive to any form of intrusive human activity and an increasingly rare and valuable experience in Scotland.
“Any presumed benefit from this development would be far outweighed by the damage it would do to such a distinctive landscape which is vital not only to highland Perthshire’s identity but also to Scotland’s international image.
“There might be a reason for the approval of this proposal if there was a dearth of onshore wind farm developments coming forward to achieve the Scottish Government’s energy goals, but this is not the case, so Talladh-a-Bheithe cannot be considered a necessary development, far less an essential one, and it’s certainly not in the national interest.”
The MCofS objection to the plan notes that there are 54 mountains designated as Munros and Corbetts within 35 kilometres of the site, from which the development would be visible.