The John Muir Trust has welcomed the decision by Scottish Ministers to refuse consent for two major developments in the Highlands because of their landscape impact on two recognised Wild Land Areas. In one letter the Minister states that these areas “are of recognised national importance”.
A Public Local Inquiry (PLI) into an application by Muirhall Energy for a 20-turbine development at Caplich in Sutherland, found that the proposed wind farm would cause “significant harm to Wild Land Areas 34 [Reay-Cassley] and 29 [Rhiddoroch-Beinn Dearg-Ben Wyvis] and would compromise the natural environment, amenity and heritage resources of these areas”.
A separate PLI into an application from RES for a 13-turbine wind farm at Culachy near Fort Augustus concluded that it would “compromise the Braeroy-Creag Meagaidh-Glenshirra Wild Land Area [WLA 19], resource,” and would not be “the right development in the right place”.
Andrew Bachell, Chief Executive of the John Muir Trust said: “We are delighted at these decisions and pleased that the Scottish Government is sending out a strong message that our wild and scenic places are of national importance.
“Since the Wild Land Areas map was approved in 2014, ten wind farms with a total of nearly 200 turbines have been refused because of their impact on these landscapes and ecosystems.
”We would hope that these latest decisions will help persuade developers to focus their efforts on less sensitive areas.
“We believe that there are better ways to secure a sustainable economic future than to compromise the landscapes for which the northern Highlands are known around the world.”
On a less positive note, the Trust expressed regret that Scottish Ministers have approved the Strathy South Wind Farm on the edge of the Flow Country peatlands in Sutherland.
“We recognise the need for renewable energy but unnecessarily wrecking one part of the environment in exchange for another does not make sense.”