Leading conservation charity the John Muir Trust warned today (Tuesday 30th September) that the proposed Talladh-a-Bheithe windfarm in Rannoch, being discussed this afternoon in the Scottish Parliament, could have a disastrous impact on Scotland’s reputation for spectacular landscapes. If approved the wind farm will adversely affect views from 5% of Scotland’s 282 Munros, including Buachaille Etive Mor and Schiehallion, which the John Muir Trust has looked after since 1989.
Celebrated in books such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped and films such as The 39 Steps and Trainspotting, Rannoch Moor is one of the largest remaining wild areas in Scotland and a defining landscape for the country’s identity abroad. If approved the development would see 24 turbines up to 125m high being erected between Loch Rannoch and Loch Ericht. There would also be 12.8 kilometres of new access tracks plus associated buildings and infrastructure.
If approved the windfarm would be built only 1300 metres from the Rannoch and Glen Lyon National Scenic Area (NSA) and 10 kilometres from the Ben Nevis and Glen Coe NSA. Scottish Natural Heritage has objected to the ‘significant adverse effect’ that the wind farm would have on the special landscape characteristics of both these areas. The turbines would also be visible from the iconic West Highland Railway line and the A82 ‘road to Glen Coe.’
The proposal is wholly within one of SNH’s newly identified Wild Land Areas and flies in the face of 2014 Scottish Government planning guidelines that recently committed to value and protect Scotland’s wildest landscapes.
John Muir Trust’s Head of Policy Helen McDade said: “This proposal could be damaging to Scotland’s international image. This development threatens to turn one of Scotland’s most famed landscapes of open moor and mountain grandeur into a semi- industrial landscape.
“I’m all for sensitively sited low carbon energy but you really couldn’t dream up a worse place to put a massive windfarm in Scotland. With Scotland’s reputation for stunning landscapes at stake I hope and expect our MSP’s to stand up for wild Rannoch, Scotland’s image abroad and the future of our tourist industry in today’s parliamentary debate.
“This is a real test case for the Scottish Government’s recent commitment to protect our wildest landscapes. MSPs need to give a clear cross-party commitment to upholding the principles of the new planning policy and Wild Land Areas map, which recognise the huge role played by Scotland’s wild land to our quality of life, our national identify and the visitor economy.”
Murdo Fraser MSP for Mid Lothian and Fife wants all parties to unite to behind opposition to the Talladh-a-Bheithe wind farm development and is leading debate in the Scottish Parliament at around 5PM on Tuesday 30th of September.
The proposal is in the Wild Land Area 14. It is the first Section 36 application for a development in a Wild Land Area since the adoption on 23 June 2014 of new planning policy guidelines in the National Planning Framework 3 (NPF3) and Scottish Planning Policy (SPP2). Section 4.4 of NPF3 states: “We also want to continue our strong protection for our wildest landscapes – wild land is a nationally important asset.”
Scottish Natural Heritage, the government’s natural heritage adviser, has submitted a strongly worded objection to the scheme and stresses that “a wind farm in this location would result in significant adverse impacts on a range of nationally and internationally important natural heritage features.” SNH objects in particular on account of the impacts on an area which they say “epitomises the essence of the Highlands.”
The proposed wind farm development has been submitted by Netherlands-based developer, Eventus BV, of which the Talladh-a-Bheithe landowner is a major shareholder. There have been around a thousand objections to this scheme, including the John Muir Trust, Mountaineering Council of Scotland, Keep Rannoch Wild, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Cairngorms National Park Authority and SEPA.