CAMPAIGNERS were celebrating last night after planners rejected controversial proposals for windfarm in the hills above iconic Loch Ness.
Highland Council officials have ruled the 13-turbine Cnoc an Eas development would have had a “significantly detrimental visual impact” on the tourist magnet.
Hundreds of people and several official bodies objected to the scheme and a protest group was formed to try to block it.
Members of Stop Turbines at Glenurquhart (Stag) said last night the proposal had caused a year of “stress and blight” in their lives.
The project was a joint venture between Force 9 Energy and EDF Energy, who yesterday said they would take time to consider the local authority’s decision and their next steps.
The developers had hoped to win permission to build the 415ft turbines in Glenurquhart, above Loch Meikle and about halfway between Cannich and Drumnadrochit.
There were 287 objections to the plans, including protests from four community councils.
The Forestry Commission Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland and Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd also made representations about the scheme and there were fears it could affect radar at Inverness Airport.
Stag member Cliff Green said: “Given the council’s refusal and the weight of local opposition we hope that the developer will now do the decent thing and not lodge an appeal and therefore save local residents from further stress and blight to their lives – which this proposal has caused for over a year.
“We also hope that this will send a message to other developers that enough is enough and we do not want or need any more wind farms in the Loch Ness area.”
Twelve letters of support were also received by the local authority.
In his decision notice, the council’s acting principal planner Simon Hindson highlighted the visual impact on properties in the area, and for tourists and visitors using the land to the north, south and east for recreational purposes.
He also said the development would adversely affect the view from the summit of Meall Fuar-mhonaidh, one of the most walked hills above Loch Ness.
He also said there would be a “detrimental impact on the special qualities of the Loch Ness and Duntelchaig Special Landscape Area” and the setting of the Corrimony chambered cairn south of Cannich.
Andrew Smith, head of planning and development at Force 9 Energy, said: “We are disappointed at the decision of the Highland Council and will take time to carefully consider the reasons for refusal and our next steps.
“We will of course continue to keep the local community updated throughout.”