HIGHLAND councillors have rejected a controversial windfarm on the grounds of its impact on wild land.
Energy firm RES, the developers of the Culachy project near Fort Augustus and Loch Ness, has expressed disappointment at the decision, claiming it would have provided an initial £3.6million boost to the local economy in its first year.
They insisted the 13-turbine project would have been out of sight of the famous loch.
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This was despite a recommendation by the authority’s planning officers and it also received no objections from key statutory consultees including Scottish Natural Heritage and Historic Scotland.
But conservation organisations, including the John Muir Trust and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland objected to the development, claiming it would impact on iconic scenerey.
They said the turbines would have reached up to 150 metres high and would ‘destroy the quiet setting’ of the historic Wade road descending from the Corrieyairack Pass to Fort Augustus.
There are seven Munros and Corbetts within 15km of the proposed development. For five of these, Culachy is the closest proposed wind farm.
It would be sited in and around a specified Wild Land Area.
The MCofS believes that the western Monadhliath range already has more than its share of consented wind farms, most of which are not yet operational.
RES claimed it had designed the wind farm so that it sits within a bowl in the landscape and would not be seen from Loch Ness.
Development Manager Lisa Miller said: “We are disappointed with the decision today to refuse Culachy Wind Farm as we worked hard to ensure that the wind farm was acceptable and policy compliant.
“We believe this is a good location for a wind farm and will have very limited visibility - with the project attracting very few local objections. RES is committed to the development of renewables in the Highlands and we will now take time to review the decision.”
Culachy Wind Farm was expected to bring a £3.6m boost to the local economy through the use of local suppliers and contractors during the construction and first year of the operation of the wind farm.
RES, a UK company employing over 100 staff in Scotland, has developed three wind farms in the Highlands and works with local companies to help deliver its projects.
The project also had the backing of the Inverness Chamber of Commerce, whose chief executive Stewart Nicol said the windfarm would have brough a number of economic benefits to the Highlands.
RES is one of the world’s leading independent renewable energy project developers with operations across Europe, the Americas and AsiaPacific.
At the forefront of renewable energy development for over 30 years, RES has developed and/or built more than 9,000MW of renewable energy capacity worldwide.
In the UK alone, RES currently has more than 1,000MW of projects either constructed, under construction or consented.
RES is active in a range of renewable energy technologies including both onshore and offshore wind, solar, wave and tidal.