By Kirsteen Paterson
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) must “stand up and protect” the land from
wind farm developers who “exploit” the planning system, an outdoors body
Mountaineering Scotland says SNH, a Scottish Government agency, should play
a stronger role in determining whether or not turbines should be built in
Currently, the organisation provides advice to planners asked to rubber
stamp new developments or grant extensions to existing projects.
But Mountaineering Scotland, which represents hillwalkers, says it should
instead take up the mantle of the “guardians of natural heritage”.
The call comes as the body advocates against two proposed projects in the
hills south west of Highland village Garve.
Consent was given for developments at Lochluichart in 2008 and
Corriemoillie three years later.
However, officials allowed far fewer turbines than the renewable energy
operators sought, with ministers later expressing that the projects would
give “the appearance of one larger scheme”.
Now new blueprints have been submitted to add further devices in the same
While both projects have gone for consent at the same time, neither plan
refers to the other in landscape appraisals.
Stuart Younie, chief executive officer of Mountaineering Scotland, said:
“What these further proposals do is spread development beyond the consented
proposals that were tested and constrained at the time of the initial
application and following intervention by Scottish ministers.
“It is the opinion of Mountaineering Scotland that Scottish Natural
Heritage needs to step in here as the guardians of natural heritage.
Scottish Natural Heritage have said that they provide advice.
“We need more than this from them.
“They need to share in the responsibility to protect this mountain
landscape and object to these two proposals, present the arguments that
will lead to them being rejected and if necessary, contest them in public
While the new applications concern land in the same general areas as the
existing schemes, they are brought by different developers.
Fully operational since 2014, the 69 megawatt Lochluichart Wind Farm is the
largest onshore project by Eneco UK, a subsidiary of the Dutch utility
player Eneco. However, the nine-turbine Lochluichart Extension II proposal
has been drawn up by Dorset’s Infinergy.
Meanwhile, the 47MW Coiremollie wind farm is the work of EDF Energy, and
the new 17-turbine Kirkan Wind Farm plan has been put forward by Coriolis
Energy and ESB.
Announcing the move in March, the two firms said: “Whereas we had initially
been considering of project with up to 24 turbines, as a result of the
comments made to us during the consultation process we comprehensively
redesigned and scaled back the project, reducing the number of turbines and
minimising visibility from key areas.
“In granted approval, Kirkan Wind Farm would be capable of generating
enough renewable electricity to meet the average annual requirements of
around 50,000 homes.
“Using the naturally available wind resource will help to reduce our carbon
emissions, improve security of energy supply and contribute towards
achieving Scotland’s ambition to generate the equivalent of 100% of
electricity demand from renewable sources.”
Younie says that, without providing full context in their documents, the
applicants are seeking to “exploit” the planning system, adding: “The
planning system can be exploited this way by industrial developers, but we
have to remember that Scotland’s landscape is a precious resource.
“The Scottish Government has said this, and Visit Scotland banks on it.
“We need it to be protected from this type of opportunist development that
ignores previously agreed outcomes.
He added: “With the Planning Bill stalled in the Scottish Parliament, our
politicians still have the opportunity to pick up this challenge and do
more to protect our mountain landscapes.
“There is the need to move to a low carbon economy but we do not believe
that this transition need be at the expense of Scotland’s unique mountain
By the time we went to print, neither Infinergy nor Coriolis responded to
The National’s request for comment.
However, a spokeswoman for SNH said: “Consultations on these proposals are
ongoing and in line with our remit as a statutory consultee, we will
carefully consider the impacts on nature and provide our advice in due course.”