The Mountaineering Council of Scotland has reacted with dismay to the Scottish Government’s decision to grant permission for a 67-turbine wind farm, the Strathspey and Badenoch Herald has reported.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has given the go-ahead for the Stronelairg development on the Garrogie Estate near Fort Augustus.
Mountaineering Council of Scotland chief officer David Gibson said: “We objected to Stronelairg because it will be a massively intrusive industrial development located on a 700 metre-high plateau, meaning that the height of turbines will extend to more than 800 metres above sea level (2,500 feet) and be visible from mountains for miles around and from the Cairngorms National Park.
“The Scottish Government appears to be oblivious to the adverse impacts of such developments on tourism.
“Even research studies sponsored by the renewables industry itself already show a worrying and serious trend in the adverse impact on visitor intentions, based on their perceptions of wind farm developments.
“The Scottish Government will publish its latest planning policy (NPF3 and SPP) on 23 June in which it will lay out the measures by which it aims to protect Scotland’s world-renowned landscape from onshore wind farm developments.
“If Stronelairg is indicative of the value it places on our landscape, there seems to be little hope for its future, and for that of the many businesses and thousands of jobs in rural communities which rely on tourists who come to Scotland for its landscape, unless strong protective measures are put in place.”
The project will provide power for the equivalent of up to 114,000 homes.
Badenoch MSP Dave Thompson has welcomed the go-ahead and said it will generate as much as £30m in benefits for the local area and the Highlands as a whole.
During the construction phase and throughout its lifespan the project is expected to create more than 100 jobs for the local community.