The Stronelairg windfarm will cover an area the size of Inverness. Photo: Karl and Ali CC-BY-SA-2.0

The Stronelairg windfarm will cover an area the size of Inverness. Photo: Karl and Ali CC-BY-SA-2.0

Scotland’s biggest conservation charity has thrown its weight behind the campaign against the building of a huge windfarm in the Highlands.

The National Trust for Scotland is contacting all its 320,000 members urging them to support the John Muir Trust’s opposition to the Stronelairg development.

It is also asking its members to pledge cash to the JMT’s legal fund. The charity faces being hit with a large bill for costs incurred by the Scottish Government and Scottish and Southern Energy if its challenge is unsuccessful. A judge refused to grant a protective expenses order which would have limited its costs.

The proposed Stronelairg windfarm in the Monadhliath Mountains will cover an area similar to the Highland’s biggest city and has been opposed by the Scottish Government’s advisory body on the outdoors, the Cairngorms National Park Authority and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, as well as the JMT.

A hearing will take place early next year at the Court of Session to try to stop the development.

The National Trust for Scotland’s chief executive Kate Mavor said: “Although the proposed windfarm is not directly adjacent to any of our properties, it will be visible from large swathes of the Cairngorms national park and we are supporting this campaign on principle.

“We are not opposed to renewable energy developments by any means, so long as they are suitably located, are proportionate and subject to public scrutiny. We think there are serious questions to be answered about the way the Stronelairg windfarm was approved and what it might mean for Scotland’s wild lands.”

The NTS director of conservation services and projects Terry Levinthal added: “The 67 turbines, up to 135m tall, will cover an area the size of Inverness within the Monadhliath Mountains, bounding a special area of conservation.

“Ironically, their construction will require thousands of tonnes of steel and concrete to be placed on top of significant peatlands and their eco-systems. These act as a natural carbon ‘sink’, tying up greenhouse gasses that could otherwise accelerate climate change.

“We find it particularly disturbing that the Government’s own agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, and the Cairngorms National Park Authority both objected to the development yet their protests were ignored.

“It has also been suggested that SNH’s efforts to have Stronelairg added to the wild land areas map, which would have afforded a measure of protection from development, were stymied. Given the precedent this enormous windfarm may set, the implications for the conservation of wild land are deeply concerning.”

The NTS is contacting its membership by email and social media. It is suggesting that help could be given to the campaign by writing to ministers and MSPs and by making personal donations to the John Muir Trust’s legal fund.

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