A controversial proposal to build a major wind farm on the fringes of Rannoch Moor has attracted the attention of MSPs, and will be debated in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon. Campaigners say it would have a 'disastrous impact' on the treasured wild landscape of the central highlands.
The 24-turbine Talladh-a-Bheithe wind farm would occupy a prominent site north of Loch Rannoch and east of Loch Ericht, on the edge of Rannoch Moor and within one of the largest areas of prime wild land in Scotland. It would be a major feature in views from Schiehallion, the north Glen Lyon Munros, the Munros of the Rannoch Forest and Ben Alder. The wind farm would also be visible from the southern Cairngorms National Park, Rannoch Moor and even the A82 and Buachaille Etive Mor.
Today's parliamentary debate will be held after a motion was submitted by Mid-Scotland and Fife Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser. He calls on MSPs to heed objections from the Mountaineering Council of Scotland and the John Muir Trust, among others, and to consider the adverse impact of the scheme.
Opponents point out that the site is immediately next to the Loch Rannoch and Glen Lyon National Scenic Area, and within the boundary of one of the largest continuous areas on Scotland's new Wild Land Map (14. Rannoch - Nevis - Mamores - Alder).
They say Talladh-a-Bheithe will be the first major test of the Scottish Government's recent commitment under the Third National Planning Framework to protect wild land as a nationally important asset.
Conservation charity the John Muir Trust (JMT) warned today that Talladh-a-Bheithe could have a disastrous impact on Scotland’s reputation for spectacular landscapes. If approved the wind farm will adversely affect views from 5% of Scotland’s 282 Munros, they say.
The JMT’s Head of Policy Helen McDade said:
'This proposal could be damaging to Scotland’s international image. This development threatens to turn one of Scotland’s most famed landscapes of open moor and mountain grandeur into a semi- industrial landscape.'
'I’m all for sensitively sited low carbon energy but you really couldn’t dream up a worse place to put a massive windfarm in Scotland. With Scotland’s reputation for stunning landscapes at stake I hope and expect our MSPs to stand up for wild Rannoch, Scotland’s image abroad and the future of our tourist industry in today’s parliamentary debate.'
'This is a real test case for the Scottish Government’s recent commitment to protect our wildest landscapes. MSPs need to give a clear cross-party commitment to upholding the principles of the new planning policy and Wild Land Areas map, which recognise the huge role played by Scotland’s wild land to our quality of life, our national identity and the visitor economy.'
The proposed wind farm development has been submitted by Netherlands-based developer, Eventus BV, of which the Talladh-a-Bheithe landowner is a major shareholder. There have been around a thousand objections to the scheme, including those submitted by the John Muir Trust, Mountaineering Council of Scotland, Keep Rannoch Wild, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Cairngorms National Park Authority and SEPA.