The Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) is today urging Highlands councillors to reject a ‘major’ planning application for a wind turbine farm on the edge of iconic Glen Affric, about 30 miles south-west of Inverness.
Members of the local council’s planning committee are today visiting the propose site of the Beinn Mhor wind farm and will decided the application tomorrow (Tues).
The Mountaineers objected to the proposals to build the wind farm – which would consist of six turbines each almost 400 feet high – on the slopes of Beinn Mhor, near Tomich, just south of the iconic glen.
In its objection, the Mountaineering Council said the proposed wind farm would have severe landscape and visual impacts on the area and would affect local tourism and recreation.
Chief Officer David Gibson said: “This site cannot support a wind energy development of the scale proposed without causing an unacceptable and intrusive impact on the important and iconic landscape of the Glen Affric area, with consequent impacts on tourism.
“The planning officer’s report is disappointingly empty of original content and repeats much of the developer’s own information.
“It is alarming is that it recommends consent but makes no attempt to rebut the 1,252 objections from the public and two community councils, whereas there were only 181 responses in support.
“On tourism it contradicts itself – stating that the impact would be negligible and the development won’t put hill users off climbing the mountains of this area yet also saying it may discourage repeat visits.
“There are existing and proposed wind farms in the vicinity at Bhlaraidh and Corrimony and to consent this development – closer than either of them to Glen Affric – would facilitate the steady march of turbines to the west.
“The area has high scenic value which is of international repute and popular with a wide range of visitors – not just mountaineers. If consented, the development could turn a landscape which is outstanding into something which is plain ordinary.”
Highland Council’s report recommending the plan be approved states: “Glen Affric is a popular area for hill walking and mountaineering due to the relatively high concentration of Munros and Corbetts.
“It is agreed that the proposed development will have a visual impact, however the location of the development is not considered to have a direct effect on the mountain landscape which Glen Affric is famed for.
“There will be an indirect effect looking out from the hills and mountains of Glen Affric, however this must be considered in relation to the already consented and operational wind farms within the landscape.”