The UK’s leading wild land conservation charity has criticised plans to
build a windfarm on the edge of Perthshire.

Developer Eneco UK submitted an application for 18 turbines between Glen
Prosen and Glen Isla, each 125 metres in height, to the Scottish Government
in January.

The proposed 59MW Macritch Hill development is intended for Scottish Water
land at Backwater Reservoir.

But the John Muir Trust has claimed the development will negatively affect
the Cairngorms National Park if it goes ahead.

John Low of the trust, based in Pitlochry, said it does not support
“industrial-scale wind energy developments” on wild land.

“We are seriously concerned about the cumulative impact of the proposed
development,” he said.

“The John Muir Trust believes that the Macritch windfarm would have a
significant and detrimental effect both in terms of combined visibility and
sequential impact.

“No matter what they do a development of this scale will have a major
visual impact.

“The Statue of Liberty is 93 metres high; if I was to suggest that putting
18 of them in this area would have a negligible additional impact on the
landscape, I don’t think my view would be given any credence.”

The trust states other developments in the area include the operational
Drumderg (16 turbines), application-stage Tullymurdoch (seven) and Saddle
Hill (14), while Green Burn at Drumfork is at the scoping stage.

Eneco UK had scaled back earlier plans for up to 33 turbines along the
water and the firm believes the windfarm would help reduce the utilities
giant’s electricity bill by generating 138 Gigawatt hours of electricity
each year.

A spokesman for Eneco UK said: “Following public consultation, Eneco has
reduced the number of turbines from 33 to 18.

“Eneco has moved the turbines from the hilltops and designed the windfarm
development in a valley that has already seen human intervention.

“This means that the Macritch Hill Wind Farm will have almost no visibility
from the core of the national park, and will have little scope to interact
with any other consented or proposed windfarms in the area.”

Known as Macritch Hill after the 475-metre elevation to the east of
Backwater Reservoir, the project will stand on 1,200 hectares of shore-side
land at the 397-metre Little Ley.

Eneco was awarded the rights to explore the development in 2012, and has
since undertaken an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and technical
surveys to determine the scale and design of the proposed windfarm.

Eneco states that a series of consultations have also been carried out in
the community.

Other Eneco UK projects include the operational Tullo and Twinshiels
windfarms (42MW) in Laurencekirk and Lochluichart (69MW) in the Highlands,
while Highland developments Burn of Whilk and Moy are both under construction.

The objection follows that of Stewart Miller from the International Raptor
Research and Conservation, who claimed a “baseline bird study” conducted by
the developer did not go far enough in analysing local bird populations and
their risk.

Eneco UK rebuffed his claims, and considers there would be “no adverse
effect” on species.

Mr Miller said: “The data provided by the vantage point surveys and
flight-line records show that this development will kill geese and a
variety of raptor species such as osprey, golden eagle, goshawk, peregrine
falcon and, potentially, merlin and white-tailed eagles.

“The above are species included in the list of target species for the site.
However, it should also be noted that short-eared owls, hen harriers,
buzzards, kestrels and sparrowhawks have been excluded.”

Mr Miller said that the company’s 13-month survey was too short, adding:
“This is not a long enough period to give an accurate survey result and
therefore is incomplete.”

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