Ben Wyvis, from Meall na Speireig. Photo: Alasdair MacDonald CC-BY-SA-2.0

Ben Wyvis, from Meall na Speireig. Photo: Alasdair MacDonald CC-BY-SA-2.0

The body that represents climbers and hillwalkers in Scotland has objected to plans to build a windfarm on a munro.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland said the proposals for the turbines on Ben Wyvis are proof that protection for the nation’s highest and most important hills is needed.

The MCofS recently published its manifesto on onshore windfarms in which it said there should be a moratorium on the building of commercial turbine projects on munros and corbetts.

Falck Renewables Wind wants to build 17 turbines up to 126m (413ft) tall on the south-eastern slopes of the mountain, to the east of Meall na Speireig at its proposed Clach Liath windfarm.

But the MCofS said Ben Wyvis is a popular munro it considers worthy of protection. “A windfarm on the flanks of Ben Wyvis would be visible from Inverness and Dingwall, as well as a number of popular mountains in the surrounding area,” it added.

“The Mountaineering Council of Scotland has objected to the proposed windfarm development because it would not be in accordance with the Highland Council development plan. Furthermore, it would be contrary to the purposes of the special landscape areas designation in the Highland-wide local development plan.

Falck want to build 17 turbines. Photo: Paul Anderson CC-BY-SA-2.0

Falck want to build 17 turbines. Photo: Paul Anderson CC-BY-SA-2.0

MCofS director of landscape and access Ron Payne said: “The sensitivity of the site and nature and scale of the proposed development means the landscape does not have the capacity to accept the proposed development.

“The applicant has not presented any arguments to indicate that there are material considerations to indicate otherwise and as such the application should be refused.

“Ben Wyvis is an iconic munro that would be permanently disfigured and damaged by such a senseless industrial development.

“This is the wrong place for a wind farm and the MCofS urges Highland Council to reject the application.”

Conservation charity the John Muir Trust has also objected to the proposals.

Chief executive Stuart Brooks said: “I sincerely hope that planning officials will recommend that this application is rejected and that the Highland Council planning committee refuses permission.

“The Clach Liath wind development would scar the sides of a notable and popular munro in close proximity to Inverness. Wild places such as this should be valued for what they are and not industrialised.

“This windfarm would tower over land designated as a national nature reserve, and encroach on scenery that has been rightly recognised as a special landscape area. The access route will gouge through the Alt na Caoraich burn, which is a site of special scientific interest.

“This industrial energy plant is far too close to our wild land; it jeopardises the natural beauty that sustains jobs associated with tourism.

“There are already many windfarms in this area, saturating the area with wind towers will leave little space clear of mechanised industry.

“Many more people in the Highland region have tourism-related jobs than in maintaining wind development, which is largely done electronically.

“I urge the Highland Council to think about the human impact of risking such an important source of sustainable employment.

“Ben Wyvis is a famous peak important for wildlife, which is home to at least 2.4 per cent of the breeding Eurasian dotterel in Great Britain. So for both ecological and landscape impacts, this is a development in the wrong place.”

Falck said the planned operating life of the turbines is 25 years, and that it has reduced the number of turbines by one from its original designs.

The company said the proposed development and associated mitigation measures have been designed to minimise adverse environmental effects.

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