Highlands wind farm approved despite 'significant' wild land impact

Plans have been approved for a 22-turbine wind farm in the Scottish Highlands after Scotland's energy minister Paul Wheelhouse concluded that the scheme's 'significant' impact on wild land would be outweighed by its benefits.

Wind power: Highlands scheme approved
Wind power: Highlands scheme approved

The Creag Riabhach wind farm would be located across 365 hectares of the Altnaharra Estate, near Lairg, in the North Highlands.

Developer Creag Riabhach Wind Farm Ltd said that the development would have a generating capacity of 72.6MW, enough to power 36,000 homes, and is anticipated to provide in excess of £9 million in community benefit.

In his decision letter, Wheelhouse said that the principle of the scheme was supported by by Scotland’s renewable energy and climate change targets, energy policies and planning policies and this should be afforded "significant weight" in the decision-making process.

The letter said that a key issue was the development’s impact on wild land, as designated by Scotland’s key planning document, Scottish Planning Policy.

Wheelhouse said that he accepted that the scheme would cause "significant impacts on wild land which cannot be substantially overcome".

However, he added that only five of the proposed turbines fell within the wild land area and that "significant impacts on the physical attributes of the wild land area will be limited in their extent".

"Scottish ministers are satisfied that other environmental issues can be appropriately addressed by way of mitigation, and that any aspects which remain are outweighed by the benefits the development will bring", the letter concluded.

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