The Scottish Government has approved the building of a large-scale wind farm in the Monadhliath hills south west of Loch Ness.
Developer, Renewable Energy Systems (RES) have been given permission to construct 33 turbines, 120 metres high, at Dunmaglass, just south of Farr, and about 15 miles south of Inverness. The Dunmaglass estate is owned by property developer Sir Jack Arnold Hayward, former chairman of Wolverhampton Wanderers listed by the Sunday Times as the 125th richest person in Britain, and is popular as a shooting estate. The wind farm plans have been controversial from the start, with objections from the Cairngorms National Park Authority, Scottish National Heritage, the John Muir Trust and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS). Highland Council was in favour of the development which may provide enough power for 46,000 homes.
In 2005, biologist, Dr David Bellamy said the project would “sell Scotland’s heritage for a mess of wattage”. There were also concerns that the turbines would pose a risk to golden eagles.
Announcing its approval, the BBC reported the Scottish Government as stating that the construction phase of the development would create work for about 55 people. Energy Minister Jim Mather, who is also responsible for tourism, said it marked a further step towards greater use of “clean, green electricity” in Scotland.
Mr Mather told the BBC, “I am pleased that the developer has agreed a community benefit package for the three local community councils and will fund a substantial package of upgrades of the local B851 road.
“RES is also involved in an innovative link with the University of Highlands and Islands for a graduate development programme and an internship programme.”
Chris Townsend, president of the MCofS, which campaigned against the development said, “It is a disappointment and the development will destroy the wild feel of that mountainous region.”