The news that power corporation SSE is to sponsor the 2013 Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA) should come as an embarrassment to those involved in the tourism industry and those living in the region. This company is responsible for some of the most undesirable wind farm applications made in Scotland. Its proposals often face fierce opposition from fragile communities which rely on tourism.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that SSE is sponsoring the awards during the Year of Natural Scotland – during which we are supposed to be encouraging visitors to enjoy the very wild landscapes the company wants to industrialise in order to increase its profits (£1.3 billion in 2011-12).
Examples of SSE’s wind farm proposals that would damage our precious mountain assets are: Stronelairg (83 turbines); Dalnessie (27); Glencassley (26) and Bhlaraidh (36). Yes, we have objected to these proposals, but not to the other 22 SSE onshore wind farm developments.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland is not opposed to wind farms – we have objected to only 6 per cent of planning applications – but we simply argue that they should not be built in the most precious of our mountains, the places which give Scotland its international reputation as a country to visit for its fantastic open spaces. We would suggest that potential entrants might think about boycotting the awards this year in the hope that HITA will find a more suitable sponsor.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland