THE Scottish Government’s approval for the 22-turbine wind farm at Creag
Riabhach near Altnaharra sends a worrying signal to all those who wish to
see wild Scottish landscapes underpin the sustainable development of the
Highlands.

Up until now Ministers had held true to the intent of their own planning
policy and rejected industrial developments in what they themselves had
identified as wild land of national importance. These areas were identified
following an extensive public consultation and based on a rigorous
methodology.

The simple fact is you cannot accommodate industrial developments in these
places without fundamentally altering their character and destroying their
appeal to the millions of tourists that are drawn to their unique
qualities. Turbines towering 125m high above upland landscapes exert a
visual impact far beyond their physical footprint.

The rapid success of the North Coast 500 testifies to the potential for
kick-starting sustainable economic growth through tourism in the region.
Wind farms have their benefits, not least in helping to address the
challenge of climate change, but building them on peatland in wild land is
short-sighted and will harm the interests of the many to profit the few.

Scottish Natural Heritage, the government’s own advisors, seem clear on
this point: they objected to Creag Riabhach on these grounds. Scottish
Ministers need to urgently clarify their commitment to protecting wild land
and issue guidance to developers and local authorities that makes it clear
that developments will not be consented where they destroy wild land values.

Stuart Brooks, Chief Executive, John Muir Trust, Tower House, Station Road,
Pitlochry.


SAS Volunteer

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