The site of the proposed windfarm development at Stronelairg. Photo: Karl and Ali CC-BY-SA-2.0

The site of the proposed windfarm development at Stronelairg. Photo: Karl and Ali CC-BY-SA-2.0

A conservation charity has called for a public inquiry into plans to build a massive windfarm in the Monadhliath Mountains.

The John Muir Trust today wrote to Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing after he approved SSE’s plans to build 67 turbines at Stronelairg.

It said it was very disappointed by the minster’s decision to allow the development on wild land and said it suspected the move was intended to pre-empt the debate on updated planning rules, given that Stronelairg fell within a proposed core area of wild land.

The trust said: “The Scottish Government has, over the last 18 months, demonstrated a direction of travel towards protecting wild land for the public benefit.

“Public opinion polls have supported this position, and we now look to the Scottish Government to ensure that words are turned into action, and that wild land receives robust protection from industrialisation.

“For a number of reasons, we believe that a public local inquiry is the only reasonable way that this development could be adequately assessed.”

The JMT said the windfarm would be the biggest ever in the Highlands, covering an area the size of Inverness.

“Second, it will have, according to the Scottish Government, ‘a significant impact on the wildness qualities of [the] search area for wild land’, while Scottish Natural Heritage is of the opinion that ‘there would be significant adverse effects to the extent that the SAWL would no longer be considered wild land,’ the trust said.

“We think it highly likely that a different decision would have resulted in light of all the evidence brought forward to such a public examination by objectors and expert witnesses.”

The John Muir Trust, named after the Scottish-born national park pioneer, owns several mountains and areas of wild land, including most of the UK’s highest peak Ben Nevis.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland has also voiced its strong opposition to the development.

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