Ministers give consent for Highlands wind farm project

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The Scottish Government has granted consent for the construction of a 22-turbine wind farm in the Highlands.

Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said the Creag Riabhach development on the Altnaharra Estate, near Lairg, would generate enough power for 36,000 homes.

The wind farm will have a generating capacity of 72.6MW with estimated savings of 66,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

More than 200 objections to the scheme had been lodged, with Mountaineering Scotland and the John Muir Trust raising concerns about its impact on wild land.

Highland Council did not object to the project and it also received backing from the local Bettyhill, Strathnaver and Altnaharra community council.

The Government said it expected the development to benefit the community to the tune of more than £9 million.

Mr Wheelhouse said: “Renewable energy sources accounted for over 56.7% of gross electricity consumption in Scotland in 2015 and onshore wind is a key driver for the growth in both our renewable electricity supply and wider renewable energy sector, and in the delivery of our vision for a greener Scotland and statutory climate change targets by enabling decarbonisation of electricity production.

“This proposal for Creag Riabhach received popular support from the local community council and public alike and, once operational, the wind farm will generate enough electricity to power 36,000 homes and generate over £9 million in benefits for the local community.”

Stuart Brooks, chief executive of the John Muir Trust, said the conservation charity was “very disappointed and concerned” with the decision.

He said: ” The decision flies in the face of a series of previous decisions by the Scottish Government, refusing consent to similar applications impacting on wild land areas.

“This is not a few small community-owned turbines. It is a major industrial development, including giant turbines, access roads and transmission infrastructure, which will almost certainly lead to the redrawing of the boundary of wild land area 37.

“We are concerned that this project will become a trojan horse, attracting further large-scale industrial development into the area in the future, leading to further diminishing of the qualities of this wild place which attract visitors from around the world.”

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