The Scottish Government has thrown out two controversial applications for Highland wind farms on visual ‘pollution’ grounds in Wild Land areas.
Ministers have refused consent for a 22 turbine wind farm located at Sallachy and Duchally estate in central Sutherland and a 23 turbine wind farm situated at Glencassley Estate, by Lairg, also in Sutherland.
When considering the Sallachy wind farm Ministers decided there would be an unacceptable impact on the Assynt – Coigach National Scenic Area and the Reay-Cassley wild land area.
In considering the Glencassley application Ministers concluded there would be an unacceptable impact on the Reay-Cassley wild land area.
For both applications, Ministers concluded that on balance the impacts of the proposed developments would not be outweighed by any wider policy benefit.
Scottish Energy Minster Fergus Ewing explained: “The Scottish Government’s policy on wind farms strikes a careful balance between maximising Scotland’s huge green energy potential and protecting some of our most scenic landscape and wild land area.
“We have been clear that wind farms can only be built in the right places and Scottish Planning Policy sets out rigorous steps to ensure wind farms are sited appropriately and sensitively. I have considered these applications fully and recognise the efforts made by the applicants to mitigate the potential impacts of the developments.
“However I have refused permission as the proposals would still have significant and unacceptable landscape and visual impacts in the local areas and these are not outweighed by any wider policy benefit.”
The decisions were cause for joy at the John Muir Trust for upholding the principles of the Wild Land Areas map.
Stuart Brooks, Chief Executive at the John Muir Trust, said: “This is tremendous news for everyone who has worked to highlight that these developments were proposed in the wrong place.
“We are particularly delighted that the Scottish Government is following through and using the Wild Land Areas map to provide protection to Scotland’s nationally important wild land areas.”