The site of the proposed Allt Duine windfarm. Photo: Chris Townsend

The site of the proposed Allt Duine windfarm. Photo: Chris Townsend

The Scottish Government has rejected controversial plans for a windfarm on the edge of a national park.

Ministers today announced they had rejected the proposals by RWE to build 31 turbines at Allt Duine in the Monadhliath Mountains.

They said the windfarm would have had significant environmental impacts on wild land and the Cairngorms national park.

Following a public inquiry, the Reporter had recommended the Government give consent for the development.

But the Scottish Government said: “Ministers disagree with the conclusion of the Reporter that the development is consistent with certain policies within the Highland-wide local development plan and the reporter’s conclusion that the proposal would not diminish the park’s setting to an unacceptable degree.

“Ministers also disagree with the Reporter’s conclusion that the overall landscape and visual impact of the proposal would be acceptable subject to mitigation and the additional safeguards that would be secured by recommended conditions.

“Ministers’ view is that the landscape and visual impacts are not acceptable when considered against the benefits the development would bring.”

Chris Townsend: 'victory for commonsense'

Chris Townsend: 'victory for commonsense'

Campaigners welcomed the decision. Outdoors writer and Save Monadhliath Mountains spokesman Chris Townsend said: “This is a victory for commonsense, the safeguarding of the wild land in the Monadhliath Mountains and the absolute protection of the Cairngorms national park.

“This windfarm scheme was simply the wrong development in the wrong location.

“When the application was lodged five years ago it was pushing the boundaries of plausibility. With national planning policy dramatically changing over that 2,000 day period, it was clear that only one sensible conclusion could be drawn.

“The thousands of individuals and organisations that support the SMM campaign thank Mr Swinney [John Swinney, cabinet secretary for finance, employment and sustainable growth] for injecting a much needed dose of reality back into the determination process.

“The SMM campaign will watch with interest to see whether German-owned RWE Innogy try to make a case in the courts that the proposal can be ‘mitigated’.

“As lawyers, planners and conservationists know, safeguarding is incompatible with mitigation, unless the turbines in the safeguarded wild land of Monadhliath Mountains and the proposed road, cabling, compound and cement batching plant in the Cairngorms national park are now to be invisible.”

The proposal was also opposed by the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, the John Muir Trust and the Highland Council.

Stuart Brooks, chief executive of the John Muir Trust said: “The battle to save this precious area of wild land has been long and hard. We are delighted that the Deputy First Minister John Swinney has come down on the side of the people and the landscape against the energy giant RWE.

“We are especially heartened by the Scottish Government’s growing recognition of the importance of landscape, which is in tune with the views of the big majority of the population of Scotland and of the Highlands as revealed in two major opinion surveys.

“We also welcome the Minister’s acknowledgement that Allt Duine would have adversely affected the Monadhliath Wild Land Area.

“Coming on top of recent decisions to reject wind farms that would have impacted on wild land areas in Glen Affric and Caithness, this gives us grounds for optimism.

“We would now ask that the Scottish Government demonstrates its unequivocal commitment to the long term future of wild land by rejecting Glencassley and Sallachy, two other major developments on wild land in the Highlands that are awaiting ministerial decisions.”

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