Tayside and Central Scotland

Parliament debates Loch Rannoch wind farm proposal

Rannoch Moor Image copyright Pip Rolls
Image caption Objectors say the proposed wind farm would spoil views from several peaks around Rannoch Moor

A proposed wind farm project near Loch Rannoch which has drawn a number of objections has been debated at the Scottish parliament.

Plans were submitted to the government for 24 turbines on the Talladh-a-Bheithe estate, near Rannoch Moor.

Hillwalkers, Scottish Natural Heritage and the John Muir Trust have all voiced opposition to the plans.

However the developer said the "carefully balanced project" was drawn up with community feedback in mind.

The member's debate in parliament was led by Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser.

The Conservative MSP had put forward a motion which called on the parliament to note objections from the Mountaineering Council of Scotland and the John Muir Trust and consider the potential impact of the scheme on "an area of outstanding natural beauty".

Mr Fraser also noted in the motion that the proposal is the "first real test" of the Third National Planning Framework, which saw 19% of Scotland defined as national parkland or national scenic areas out of bounds to developers.

The Mountaineering Council claim the 125m tall turbines would affect views from Schiehallion, Ben Alder, Glen Lyon and Loch Tay, and would be visible from the A82.

During the debate, Mr Fraser called for the Scottish government to reaffirm its commitment to preserving Scotland's precious natural heritage.

He said this planning application was a "test case for whether the Scottish government is actually serious about protecting our wild land".

Local Government and Planning Minister Derek Mackay stressed that as this was a "live planning application", he could not comment as a minister.

'Extensive consultation'

Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander novels which were adapted for a 16-part television series partly filmed at Loch Rannoch, has also opposed the wind farm development.

The American author said: "Light-bulbs need energy; human souls need wildness and beauty.

"While I appreciate the need for sustainable energy development, I very much oppose such a project on Rannoch Moor."

A spokesman for Talladh-a-Bheithe Wind Farm Limited said the "carefully balanced project" would minimise views of turbines from key areas around the loch.

He said: "Our proposals have developed throughout an extensive consultation process in response to community and statutory consultee feedback.

"We have worked hard with our team of technical experts over the last six years to develop a carefully balanced project and have sought to design the wind farm in a natural bowl of the estate - minimising views of the turbines from key areas around Loch Rannoch.

"Should our proposals be consented, they will make a valuable contribution towards Scottish and UK government energy targets."

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