The Ramblers have backed a call from a Scottish outdoors luminary for a power company to abandon plans for a windfarm on the edge of the Cairngorms national park.
Writer Chris Townsend welcomed the announcement that SSE was withdrawing plans for windfarms at Dalnessie and Fairburn.
He said RWE should do the same with its plans for 31 turbines at Allt Duine in the Monadhliath Mountains, a view backed by Ramblers Scotland director Dave Morris.
Mr Townsend, spokesperson for Save Monadhliath Mountains, said SSE’s decision was because the scheme was no longer financially viable. “SSE saw the writing on the wall and we ask that RWE do the honourable thing – given that the damage to wild land and the park would be extreme – and withdraw their application immediately.”
Dave Morris said: “This windfarm project, on the edge of the Cairngorms national park, should be consigned to history.
“The developers, RWE Innology UK, should have realised long ago that this windfarm, which would be visible from an area of over 25,000 hectares in the heart of the Cairngorms massif, would have a massive impact on public enjoyment of the national park.
“The entire windfarm sits within the proposed Monadhliath core wild land area proposed by Scottish Natural Heritage as a guide for dealing with planning applications. If it cannot be stopped through the planning process then all outdoor organisations should join together to persuade our politicians to scrap the present financial support regime for onshore windfarms in Scotland.
“The developers need to be told to get off our hills and to seek their fortunes far out to sea where most future windfarms will be built.”
Save Monadhliath Mountains said the proposed Dalnessie wind farm would have seen 27 turbines erected, with the excavation of thousands of tonnes of rock and the construction of tens of kilometres of new access roads within a wild landscape.
It added that, if permission is granted, the Allt Duine turbines would be visible from 25,790ha of the park, including high points such as the Ptarmigan Restaurant and popular munros Ben MacDui, Cairn Gorm and Braeriach.
Chris Townsend added: “Though RWE never tire of trying, it is not credible to argue that the windfarm’s impact on the park can be overcome.
“Whatever the official reason given for the SSE decision, it is clear that RWE are peddling a pipe dream. The cabling, roads and turbines will have an irrevocable impact on the landscape, wildlife and ornithology of the park and the Monadhliath Mountains – an area that the Scottish Government wishes to protect through its new core wild land area policy.
“The weight of opinion is firmly against the Allt Duine wind farm proposal. Statutory consultees like the Cairngorms National Park Authority, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and The Highland Council stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the public and interest groups like the John Muir Trust and Mountaineering Council of Scotland against this scheme because it is a step too far by the wind industry.”
Mr Morris added: “We need to stop this Russian roulette on the western flanks of the Cairngorms, with one windfarm developer after another trying to grab their own chunk of our wild land.
“It is time to send them all packing by extending the Cairngorms national park boundary westwards towards Loch Ness and Fort Augustus and advancing proposals to make the Cairngorms into a World Heritage Site.
“These mountains deserve nothing less.”
RWE Innogy UK said construction of the windfarm presents opportunities for local economic benefit and employment.
“While we must follow current legislation and go through a competitive tender process for each part of the works, it is normal to expect local suppliers and contractors with appropriate skills will be well placed to win some of the contracts,” it said.