The John Muir Trust has launched a campaign to save Wild Land Area 34 in Sutherland which has been targeted by three separate energy companies for large scale onshore wind farms.
Together, the three applications potentially threaten the Reay-Cassley Wild Land Area with a total of 65 turbines – each three times the height of the Skye Bridge – along with tens of miles of access roads and other infrastructure.
The Trust fears that if these developments are given the go-ahead, the entire Wild Land Areas map, agreed by the Scottish Government in June 2014, could be undermined.
Two of the applications – Glencassley and Sallachy – are now awaiting a decision by Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing, while the third, Caplich, has still to be considered by Highland Council before eventually going to the Scottish Government.
The Scottish Government’s own advisory body, SNH, has objected to both the Glencassley and Sallachy applications.
Stuart Brooks, Chief Executive, John Muir Trust, said: “Last year the Scottish Government took the historic step of adopting an official wild land map of Scotland, underpinned by a national planning strategy which explicitly states that these areas are ‘very sensitive to any form of intrusive human activity and have little or no capacity to accept new development’.
“These decisions by the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament had overwhelming public support as measured by two opinion polls and two public consultations.
“A decision by the Minister to reject Sallachy and Glencassley would not only save Wild Land Area 34, it would also send a clear message to developers that these areas are national assets that will be protected by the Scottish Government.
“That in turn will reduce future speculative applications, which are expensive and time-consuming for everyone involved.”
The decision by the Scottish Government in June 2014 to identify and protect wild land was welcomed by most environmental, landscape and outdoor organisations.
However, there is a backlog of previous applications. As well as those in Area 34, Allt Duine, which is in Wild Area 20 (Monadhliath), is also awaiting a decision by the Scottish Government.