Càrn Bàn, right. Photo: Tony Kinghorn CC-BY-SA-2.0

Càrn Bàn, right. Photo: Tony Kinghorn CC-BY-SA-2.0

Highland planners have given the go-ahead for three fenced animal enclosures on the controversial estate where owners originally planned to house wolves.

The Alladale Estate on the Wester Ross-Sutherland boundary had planned to release wolves and lynx across a 9,300ha (23,000-acre) area and charge visitors to the estate.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland objected to plans to fence off large areas, preventing access for hillwalkers and climbers.

But the estate, owned by MFI furniture-chain heir Paul Lister’s family trust, scaled back the application to just three enclosures and buildings to house European elk, bison and wildcats.

Highland Council granted consent for the latest application.

Hebe Carus, access and conservation officer for the MCofS, said: “The three enclosures in this planning application are small enough and appropriately enough located not to have significant extra impact on the landscape alone.

In the mountaineering council’s submission, she said: “The MCofS welcomes the fact that none of the three enclosures in the planning application have hillwalking access implications.

“The fences that are to remain of the current 173ha [427-acre] enclosure must have sufficient access points for a choice of route to ascend or descend the ridge from wherever they are approached. This would require opening of the gates and several other crossing points at likely locations.

“Any use of areas outside the three enclosures of this planning application for animals under the current dangerous wild animals licence and any future zoo licence would have significant negative impact on public access. For this reason nothing should be consented under this planning application that would create a situation where this would be more likely to occur in the future.”

Hillwalkers and climbers had complained that the fencing at the site restricted their access to the countryside, including the 846m (2,772ft) corbett Càrn Bàn.

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