Scotland’s mountaineering body is calling on the Holyrood Government to halt what it called the staggering industrialisation of the nation’s mountains with windfarms.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland said there had been a deluge of applications for new turbines, including more than 200 in the last two weeks.
The council, which represents 11,000 hillwalkers, climbers and mountaineers north of the border, said no more windfarms should be built on the munros and corbetts of Scotland, its highest peaks.
MCofS chief officer David Gibson said: “The sheer scale and number of recent onshore wind farm applications is staggering.
“It represents the industrialisation of landscapes that form a uniquely important part of Scottish culture and identity.
“It is hard to imagine how developers can claim to care for the environment while making applications to build in some of these beautiful and sensitive places.
“During a period of just two weeks in July we were made aware of no fewer than six Section 36 – over 50 MW – windfarm planning applications and scoping proposals, between them proposing 235 turbines, up to 150m in height, all in largely undeveloped countryside.
“While the visual impact of these developments will be immense, the sheer volume of applications makes a total mockery of the democratic planning process at a time when local authority planning departments face huge costs and overwhelming amounts of work, and while groups which try to ensure fair play in the countryside have their slender resources completely overstretched by the sheer weight of applications.”
Mr Gibson suggested the timing of some of the windfarm applications might be an attempt to minimise opponents’ responses.
He said: “One might take the view that developers of major projects are releasing controversial applications in the middle of the holiday season, at a time when those in opposition do not have the resources to respond.
“For example, three of the recent six Section 36 applications came from [power company] SSE for proposed developments at Stronelairg, Bhlaraidh and Glencassley.
“We are calling on the Scottish Government to rule out sensitive mountain areas for development. Doing so would be a sensible and effective way to help developers and local authorities focus their resources, and ensure that only the most appropriate schemes went ahead after necessary levels of public scrutiny.”
The MCofS said the organisation does not oppose onshore wind farms, but believes that no technology is truly green if it damages the very environments that should be conserved. It argues that by respecting the interests of the countryside, Scotland can become a world leader in clean energy best practice as well as generation.