The Scottish Government has approved a wind-speed testing mast at an Inverness-shire beauty spot despite strong local opposition to the project.
Anti-windfarm campaigners and people living close to the site on land owned by the Breakachy, Erchless and Farley Estates, near Beauly, were disappointed at the decision.
Objector Lyndsey Ward, from Kiltarlity, described the reporter’s decision as “outrageous”.
And she vowed to fight ABO Wind’s plans for a 25-turbine windfarm at Allt Carach, on the southern flanks of Glen Strathfarrar, “every step of the way”.
Mike Spencer-Nairn, of Eagle Brae Highland Log Cabins at Struy, agreed that they would continue to fight the development, which he said would have a massive impact on his business.
He said: “There is no doubt that there is general solidarity of feeling in the local community that this is the wrong place for a windfarm.
“We all feel a bit powerless and that democracy has failed us.”
Highland councillors rejected the advice of officials and voted overwhelmingly against the German company’s proposals for a 262ft testing mast west of Beauly, near Urchany and Farley Forest.
They received 276 objections to the mast plan, but government reporter Allison Coard upheld the appeal and granted planning permission.
However, she rejected the energy company’s request for expenses to be awarded against Highland Council.
ABO Wind project manager, Tom Harrison, said they were relieved at the outcome of the appeal, but disappointed the company would have to pay its own expenses.
He said: “It was unreasonable of the council to reject our planning application in the first instance and by going to appeal we have proved the council’s decision was wrong.”
He added that the purpose of the temporary mast was to identify whether the site was suitable for a windfarm.
Councillor Margaret Davidson, Aird and Loch Ness, said she was disappointed Ms Coard did not agree with the council that the development would be an issue from a visibility point of view.
However, she was pleased the reporter had not awarded expenses against the council.
She said: “If there is an application for a windfarm, it will be treated fairly like any other application.”