A CONSERVATION charity is seeking a judicial review of the Scottish Government’s decision to give the go-ahead to a controversial 67-turbine wind farm in the famous Monahdliath Mountains - the largest ever in the Highlands.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing granted permission for SSE Renewables’ project at Stronelairg, near Fort Augustus, in July.
The John Muir Trust has now lodged a petition to the Court of Session asking for a judicial review of his decision to grant consent without any public local inquiry.
It is claimed the wind farm could generate enough electricity to power 114,000 homes.
The operators also said it would bring £30 million worth of benefits to the region.
However, the John Muir Trust said the development would “destroy the character” of an area of wild land.
Chairman John Hutchison said: “Over the past year, the Scottish Government has made ground-breaking progress by adopting the new wild land areas map of Scotland, and, for the first time, recognising wild land as an important national asset.
“However, we believe the decision by the energy minister to give the go-ahead to Stronelairg without a public local inquiry is not consistent with Scottish Government measures to protect the best areas of wild land from industrialisation.
“This is the largest-ever wind farm approved in the Highlands, and was opposed by both the government’s own advisory body on nature and landscape, Scottish Natural Heritage, and by the Cairngorms National Park Authority.
“Because of the scale of the development, and the breadth of opposition to it, we believe it should have been the subject of a public local inquiry. In the absence of proper democratic scrutiny, our trustees feel we had no choice but to seek a judicial review of the decision.”
Written objections to the development from the public outnumbered supporting letters by a margin of almost 15 to one. Three out of the four local councillors in Strathspey and Badenoch also opposed the project.
Stronelairg is in the heart of the Monadhliath Mountains, which had been proposed as a Core Area of Wild Land by SNH at the time of the Energy Minister’s decision to approve the scheme.
Subsequently, the Scottish Government asked SNH to remove Stronelairg and the surrounding area from the final version of the Wild Land Areas map.
The Scottish Government on August 21 rejected a smaller development at Glenmorie, citing proximity to wild land as one of the key grounds for refusal.