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Landscape Matters

Call for Councillors to Witness the Damage Stronelairg Wind Farm Would Cause

Sunday 17th February 2013

Press Release         17th February 2013         For immediate release

Call for Councillors to Witness the Damage Stronelairg Wind Farm Would Cause

SSE’s scheme for 83 turbines and 69km of tracks would ruin wild lands in Monadhliath mountains near Cairngorms National Park

Mountaineers are calling on Highland councillors to see for themselves the damage that would be done by a highly controversial wind farm proposal.

This Tuesday the council’s South Planning Applications Committee is due to consider the Stronelairg application for 83 turbines, each up to 135m tall, in an area of the Monadhliath mountains that is recognised by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) as holding some of Scotland’s very best wild and open countryside.

David Gibson, MCofS Chief Officer, said: “This proposal by SSE would involve building a huge power plant with vast turbines, miles of trackways, buildings and huge masts, in some of the most beautiful mountains in Scotland, at the edge of the Cairngorms National Park. It is completely wrong-headed, putting energy company profits ahead of our national heritage.

“We are calling on councillors to either reject the proposal or, if they need further convincing, to pay a site visit and see first-hand what the scheme threatens to destroy.

“Highland councillors have already shown an impressive determination to oppose unsuitable developments, and we hope this will continue. We agree with their position that this is not about being opposed to renewables, but simply that some areas are precious and should be protected.”

The MCofS also believes that now would be the wrong moment to approve the scheme as a petition is due to go before the Scottish Parliament Public Petitions Committee, on the same day that they consider the application, which calls for a new designation that would protect the best of Scotland’s shrinking areas of wild land.

In the case of Stronelairg it is clear that the wild and open quality of the lands on the Garrogie Estate, by Fort William, and the surrounding area for many miles around would be fatally damaged. The proposals not only include the turbines, but 59km of new (and 21.7km of upgraded) tracks, each several metres wide, being carved through unspoilt land. The developers also want to create a series of buildings plus four meteorological masts.

Mr Gibson said: “The petition to parliament by the highly respected John Muir Trust seeks to put an end to the lamentable situation which has seen more and more of our the wild lands being wrecked.

“Highland Council has also recently expressed its own concern about threats to wild landscapes, so we would again ask the planning committee to reject this scheme or defer its decision.”

Objections to the wind farm proposal have been lodged by a series of well-known organisations including the MCofS, JMT, the Cairngorms National Park Authority and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

The fears are not simply for the effect of this one application, but over the cumulative impact of ever-growing numbers of wind farm proposals which are concentrated in the Monadhliath area.

The MCofS is also deeply concerned that council planning officers have recommended that no objections should be made to the SSE proposals, even though this flies in the face of the council’s established position on protecting wild lands.

Mr Gibson said: “Councillors have recently voted to reject large-scale wind farms when officers had advised making no objection. The officers’ recommendations were difficult to understand as a series of important issues had been raised. It is, therefore, surprising that officers have once again chosen to advise that there should be no objection to another major scheme that would industrialise our mountains.”

Ends

Notes for editors

About the MCofS

  • Contact David Gibson 07845 919 150 or davidg@mcofs.org.uk or call 01738 493 947 in normal office hours.
  • The MCofS represents, supports and promotes Scottish mountaineering. Founded in 1970 by the Association of Scottish Climbing Clubs, MCofS is the only recognised representative organisation for hill walkers, climbers and ski-tourers who live in Scotland or who enjoy Scotland’s mountains.
  • The MCofS also acts for members of the BMC or British Mountaineering Council on matters related to Landscape and Access. The organisation provides training and information to mountain users to promotes safety, self-reliance and the enjoyment of our mountain environment.
  • MCofS has 11,400 members, representing hill walkers, climbers and mountaineers, funded through a combination of membership subscriptions; non-governmental grants; and investment from sportscotland, which supports public initiatives and services in mountain safety, mountain weather information services, mountain leader training and the development and promotion of mountaineering activities. MCofS is a not for profit company limited by guarantee and incorporated in Scotland. Company number SC322717.
  • For further information about the MCofS and for our manifesto, Protecting our Mountains: The MCofS Manifesto on Onshore Wind Farms, see lps.asp