Power company PI Renewables plans to seek permission to build a windfarm in the foothills of Ben Wyvis. Coming just months after a similar project on the massif was rejected by planners and abandoned by the company involved (see UKH news here) the scheme has already drawn strong criticism from the MCofS.
The Carn Gorm development on the flanks of Little Wyvis 2.5km northeast of Garve would include up to 19 wind turbines with up to 47.5MW of generating capacity (nb. a windfarm's actual output is always a lot less than stated max capacity), along with access tracks, an underground electricity collection network, permanent meteorological mast, and a substation and control building.
"If PI Renewables insist on pushing this proposal through planning, they can expect to be faced with strong and determined opposition"
The site overlaps with a Special Landscape Area designated for local / regional importance, includes some SSSI land, and borders land with a number of other national designations. Given its proximity to the popular and prominent Munro Ben Wyvis this proposal is likely to prove controversial.
In response to the bid the MCofS stated that it was 'astonished that a developer can even consider siting a wind farm inside a Special Landscape Area,' and urged the developers to withdraw their plans.
MCofS Chief Officer, David Gibson, said:
'It appears Ben Wyvis – a superb mountain which welcomes visitors arriving from the south to Inverness and the Moray Firth area - has become an unfortunate magnet for wind farm developers. After a long and hard-fought campaign by objectors, Falck Renewables heard the message loud and clear: that the visual impact of a wind farm on this mountain is simply not acceptable. They backed down in the face of local and national opposition. We urge PI Renewables to have the wisdom not to proceed.'
MCofS Board Member Ron Payne, director for Landscape and Access said:
'This is yet another example of an unacceptable wind farm proposal – part of which is to be located in a designated Special Landscape Area – and demonstrates why the Scottish Government must implement planning safeguards which protect Scotland’s superb landscapes from such intrusive developments. If PI Renewables insist on pushing this proposal through planning, they can expect to be faced with strong and determined opposition.'
Following the scoping phase, it will be up to PI Renewables to decide whether to proceed and submit a planning application and Environmental Impact Assessment, or to think again and seek a less controversial location for development.
Carn Gorm is just one of many proposals for Highland wind farms currently in the pipeline. The MCofS and conservation groups have repeatedly called on the Scottish Government to safeguard Scotland's mountains from such developments through the implementation of a national spatial planning policy for onshore wind farms.
The full MCofS response to the proposal can be seen here.