Highland Council has refused permission to build a major wind farm on the border of the Cairngorms National Park.
Having earlier today ridden the Cairngorm Funicular to see for themselves the view in which the wind farm would be dominant, councillors this afternoon rejected the controversial Allt Duine application by energy company RWE by nine votes to three. The application will now go to a Public Inquiry under the Scottish Government.
The development in the Monadhliath mountains near Kincraig would see the construction of 31 turbines up to 125m high and miles of access tracks and transmission infrastructure.
In response to this afternoon's news the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) issued this short statement:
'The MCofS believes that local democracy has made its views clear and trusts Scottish Ministers will listen to the views of the elected representatives and follow their lead by rejecting the application.'
Supporters of the Save the Monadhliath Mountains (SMM) campaign have also welcomed today's decision.
'SMM campaigners believe that to build a wind farm on the very edge of the National Park, in an area of unspoilt wild land, and in an area that the Council wishes to protect, would be devastating and a step too far', they say.
Formal objections have been lodged with the Scottish Government by the Cairngorms National Park Authority, the John Muir Trust, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, Scottish Campaign for National Parks and some local estates.
Outdoor author, photographer and former President of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, Chris Townsend, is a spokesman for the SMM campaign. Commenting on today's decision he said:
'After months of tireless campaigning and securing large scale public support, we're pleased that the Highland Council Area planning committee has objected to the Allt Duine wind farm proposal.'
'A huge amount of Scottish natural heritage is at stake and it is crucial that the proposal is assessed thoroughly. The only way to guarantee a meticulous assessment is for the application to be heard at a full Public Inquiry undertaken by the Scottish Government.'
'Despite today's formal objection, this is only the beginning of a long process and we will carry on working with our membership to protect this area of unspoilt natural beauty.'
The overarching objective of the SMM campaign is to ensure the wild landscape of the Monadhliath Mountains and the setting of the Cairngorms National Park is protected. The Allt Duine wind farm is just one of 11 wind farm developments (proposed or currently under construction) on the edge of the National Park, including the similarly huge Dunmaglass project (see UKH news). Campaigners are increasingly concerned about the cumulative effect of wind power on the unspoilt landscape of Scotland's largest national park – a point echoed by the Cairngorms National Park Authority itself.