£120m Cairngorms wind farm plan blown out

A CONTROVERSIAL £120 million wind farm proposal has been thrown out by the Scottish Government who admitted that it would scar the Cairngorms National Park.

The Scottish Government reasoned that a windfarm would have an 'unacceptable' impact on the area. Picture: John Devlin

The 31-turbine Allt Duine development was to be sited within a designated Wild Land area in the Monadhliath mountains near Aviemore.

After a lengthy public inquiry, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has concluded the plan did not represent sustainable development, adding: “The Scottish Government’s policy on wind farms strikes a careful balance between maximising Scotland’s huge green energy potential and protecting some of our most scenic landscape and wild areas.

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“We have been clear that wind farms can only be built in the right places and planning policy sets out rigorous steps to ensure wind farms are sited appropriately and sensitively. I have considered the Allt Duine application fully and have refused permission as the proposal would have a significant and unacceptable landscape and visual impacts in the local area, including on the Cairngorms National Park.”

The proposed turbines, which would have stood at 125 metres, would have been visible from nearly 26,000 hectares of the national park, including landmark high points such as popular Munros including Ben Macdui, Cairn Gorm and Braeriach.

The application, by RWE Innogy, was opposed by all statutory consultees, including the government’s own advisers Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Cairngorms National Park Authority and Highland Council.

But RWE Innogy UK has expressed disappointment, claiming it prevents a multi-million pound energy project from going ahead along with the creation of up to 100 jobs. Spokesman Mike Parker said: “We believe that we have designed a wind farm that is appropriate for the area in terms of the location, number and size of the turbines.

“At a time when the industry is under fire from the UK government it is increasingly damaging that this decision has been made. We would like to remain committed to investing in renewable energy projects in Scotland and to doing what we can to invest in the Scottish economy through jobs and community investments.

“However the result on this project has been discouraging. We will now consider the findings further before deciding next steps.”

Chris Townsend, a spokesman for the Save Monadhliath Mountains campaign, welcomed the decision, saying: “This is a victory for common sense, the safeguarding of the wild land in the Monadhliath Mountains and the absolute protection of the Cairngorms National Park. This scheme was the wrong development in the wrong location.”