Scotland’s mountaineering representatives said the Highlands risk becoming open house to large-scale industrial windfarm development.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland said the decision of the Highland Council not to object to the building of 31 turbines next to a wild land site demonstrates a ‘lack of stewardship’.
The Glenmorie Windfarm proposals have prompted 341 objections but officers for the council are recommending it raises no objection. The matter will be considered at its planning committee meeting next week.
If it does object, the Scottish Government will have to hold a public inquiry into the planned windfarm, which the MCofS said would be visible from the munros Ben Wyvis and Beinn Dearg, along with other munros in the Fannichs.
Four community councils in the area have objected to the proposals for the installation, south-east of Ardgay in Easter Ross.
The MCofS said Scottish Natural Heritage had raised no objection despite the fact the turbines would be 150m of the eastern boundary of a large area identified by SNH as a Search Area for Wild Land. The Scottish Government’s advisory body on the outdoors withdrew its objection after the developers agreed to remove nine turbines from the plans.
The turbines, 125m (410ft) high, would be built on the slopes of Carn an Lochan, Clach nam Ban and Carn Cas nan Gabhar.
MCofS chief officer David Gibson said: “Unless the Highland Council objects in the strongest possible terms to this intrusive proposal, they will demonstrate a lack of stewardship and send a strong message to the renewables industry that the Highlands of Scotland are open house for massive industrial-scale wind farms.
“We are talking here about one of Scotland’s finest mountain areas, an area of outstanding natural beauty, and one which visitors from around the world associate with Scotland’s unique natural heritage.
“This situation clearly demonstrates why the Scottish Government must call a halt to windfarm developments in the mountains now, and agree a national spatial planning policy for the siting of wind farms.
“The importance of our mountain areas to tourism is not challenged by the Government which has designated 2013 as the Year of Natural Scotland. Unless the development of windfarms in the mountains is halted now, 2014 may well be the year when the lights are on but no-one is homecoming.”
The MCofS pointed out there are three grahams – hills between 2,000ft and 2,500ft with a 500ft drop around them – within the search area for wild land next to the site: Beinn nan Eun, Carn Loch nan Amhichean and Beinn Tharsuinn.
Another graham, Meall Mòr, lies just to the north of Loch Glass, to the south of the proposed windfarm.