Highland committee opposes Allt Duine wind farm plan

Cairngorms funicular railway Councillors travelled on the Cairngorms funicular railway

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Highland councillors have voted nine to three to oppose RWE Npower Renewables' plan to construct 31 turbines in the Monadhliath Mountains.

Earlier, the councillors had taken the UK's highest railway journey to help them assess the potential visual impact of the Allt Duine project.

They travelled on the Cairngorms funicular railway which climbs to 1,097m (3,599ft).

The railway's highest point is just below the summit of CairnGorm Mountain.

Objectors to the Allt Duine wind farm say it will ruin an unspoilt landscape.

The Scottish government, which has the final say on the application, had consulted Highland Council on the project.

The application is now expected to go to a public inquiry.

South planning applications committee had previously deferred making any comment.

Council planning officials recommended that the local authority did not object to it.

A campaign called Save the Monadhliath Mountains opposes the project.

Campaign spokesman Chris Townsend, said: "After months of tireless campaigning and securing large scale public support, we're pleased that the Highland Council area planning committee has objected to the Allt Duine wind farm proposal.

"A huge amount of Scottish natural heritage is at stake and it is crucial that the proposal is assessed thoroughly.

"The only way to guarantee a meticulous assessment is for the application to be heard at a full public inquiry undertaken by the Scottish government."

He added: "Despite today's formal objection, this is only the beginning of a long process and we will carry on working with our membership to protect this area of unspoilt natural beauty."

Formal objections have also been lodged with the Scottish government by the Cairngorms National Park Authority, John Muir Trust, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) and Scottish Campaign for National Parks.

The MCofS said it was not against wind farms, but said the Allt Duine project would see landscape being sacrificed to the interests of firms and landowners.

If approved, the wind farm could generate enough power for 43,000 homes.

RWE Npower said efforts would be made to minimise its visual impact.

The project has been reduced from 34 to 31 turbines, which will have a maximum height to blade tip of 125m (410ft).

At three locations the height to blade tip has been restricted to 110m (360ft) so turbines cannot be seen from viewpoints in the area, the company said.

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