Plans to build a bird observatory on the largest peat bog in Europe have been altered because of safety concerns.
The RSPB says it has removed a panel of glass on the ground floor from their designs for the building at Forsinard Flows.
It is now hoped that work can start next month after local contractor O’Brien Construction was appointed.
The observatory is part of £9.6million plans which also include a visitor centre. It is hoped the scheme could generate the same amount for the local economy.
But opponents claim it will be a “glorified bus shelter on stilts”.
A spokeswoman for the Forsinard Say No group said residents were told about the changes at a recent meeting.
She said: “We asked what was going to be in place of the glass and were told nothing. There will be a big open gap.
“The observatory is meant to be there for the protection of visitors from the elements but it is going to be nothing more than glorified bus-shelter on stilts and a monumental waste of public money.
“It will be facing the prevailing winds because that is the best view.
“They did not seem to think anything was wrong with it. One man told them that it would be like a big kite.
“We believe that in hurricane force winds, it would be destroyed.”
She said there were also concerns that disabled people could not access the top deck.
But John Henderson, chairman of the Peatlands Partnership, which is working with the RSPB, said the project has “overwhelming support” from the majority of the residents of Strath Halladale and the “enthusiastic support” of the Highland Council.
He added: “The changes that have been made are as requested during the building warrant process by the planning authority and so do not require a new planning application. The planning authority has asked us to remove the glass for fire safety reasons and we have complied with this.
“The structural engineers working with the architects have designed the observatory structure to withstand extreme weather conditions, including worst case scenarios. The structure has been reinforced to account for the glass removal.
He added that the observatory’s location meant there was no wheelchair access to the top level but he added that a new section of trail was to be created between the road and building allowing access to a greater range of abilities.