Big Six power giant SSE has won its legal battle with the John Muir Trust to build a new wind farm near Loch Ness.
The Trust raised a judicial review appeal in the Court of Session over the Scot-Govt’s decision to approve the SSE plan. But it was rejected by the court.
In June 2012, Perth-based SSE submitted an application to the Scottish Government for an 83 turbine wind farm about 10 miles south-east of Fort Augustus in the Great Glen.
In April 2013 Highland Council planners recommended no objection be raised to the project, with a reduced 67 turbine layout with a maximum capacity of up to 240MW. SSE also agreed to reduce the height of 10 turbines, and the repositioning of one of these. This was upheld with 11 councillors supporting and only three against. The wind farm was consented by Scottish Ministers in June 2014.
The wind farm will be constructed around SSE’s existing 100MW Glendoe hydro scheme, using much of the existing infrastructure – including a significant number of the access tracks which run from one end of the site to the other.
An SSE spokesman said: “Situated in a natural upland bowl, Stronelairg will not be seen from the Great Glen’s key tourist routes, will be entirely invisible from Loch Ness, and will utilise the extensive existing infrastructure at our Glendoe hydro scheme.
“Stronelairg is a carefully designed project with the carbon payback estimated to be around 16 months. It was strongly supported by many local stakeholders, was not opposed by the local community council and was supported by the Highland Council planning committee. The ruling has brought good news to a project that would bring significant benefits to the local and wider economy.”
It is estimated as much as £120 million in contracts could be secured by Highland and other Scottish companies, and that significant local employment opportunities will be created during construction and operation.
SSE has pledged to provide up to £30 million of community funds for 25 years from the start of construction.