Mountaineers and wild land campaigners are delighted to hear that a threat to build a wind farm on the edges of Rannoch Moor has been thrown out.
The application to build the Talladh-a-bheithe wind farm, which would have seen 24 giant wind turbines, together with bulldozed access tracks, buildings and infrastructure, on an area of raised moorland between Loch Rannoch and Loch Ericht, has been ruled ‘not competent’ by Scottish Ministers.
A letter issued by the Scottish Government’s Energy and Climate Change Directorate noted that the application was received on 23 June 2014, but that the applicant, Talladh-A-Bheithe Wind Farm Limited, was not registered as a company until 28th August that year.
Helen McDade, Head of Policy for the John Muir Trust said: “For the past 16 months, we have worked closely with the local Keep Rannoch Wild campaign and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland to stop this monstrosity in the heart of Wild Land Area 14, so we are delighted that the scheme has been deemed not competent.
“The decision will come as a huge relief to many in the local community who were horrified by the proposal to erect 24 turbines, each 125 metres high, in an area famed across the world for the wildness of its landscape and heavily dependent on tourism.”
“From the start, this was a speculative application by a front company set up by the landowner of the Talladh-a-Bheithe estate.
“Over the past 16 months it has consumed huge amounts of time, money and effort by campaign groups and by Perth & Kinross Council. The whole inept episode further underlines the need for strategic national planning to end the energy free-for-all.”
MCofS Director for Landscape and Access Dave Gordon said he was delighted to hear the news. “Although the decision was based on a specific legal point, which meant that the application was not competent, many people thought the very idea of wind farm in such an unspoilt area was incompetent,” he said. “We hope that Rannoch is now free forever from the threat of wind turbines and does not have to suffer repeated applications, as many communities have.”
The MCofS campaigned against the planning application because of the major visual impact of such a large scale development, which it argued was not necessary in order to meet Scottish Government objectives for renewable energy generation.
If given the go-ahead, it would have affected views from Schiehallion, the Ben Alder massif, the mountains above Glen Lyon and Loch Tay and some above the Drumochter Pass. It would even have been visible from the main A82 on the far side of Rannoch Moor and from Buachaille Etive Mor beyond.
At the time, MCofS CEO David Gibson stated: “Any presumed benefit from this development would be far outweighed by the damage it would do to such a distinctive landscape which is vital not only to highland Perthshire’s identity but also to Scotland’s international image.”
A massive campaign against the proposal involved local residents under the ‘Keep Rannoch Wild’ banner, the John Muir Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage and even American novelist Diana Gabaldon, whose ‘Outlander’ novels were filmed in the area for a hugely popular television series.