Save the Monadhliath Mountains’ (SMM) plea as proposal nears planning application meeting.
There are just days to go before a crucial meeting which will go a long way to determining the outcome of the Allt Duine wind farm proposal on the edge of the Cairngorm National Park and the Save the Monadhliath Mountains (SMM) campaign group has issued a final appeal for public support to help stop the project.
The Highland Council’s South Area Planning Applications Committee is scheduled to meet next Tuesday 17 January to reach a final view on the proposal which has roused widespread opposition with formal objections lodged with the Scottish Government by the Cairngorms National Park Authority, John Muir Trust, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, Scottish Campaign for National Parks and key local estates.
The opposition to the proposal has been spearheaded by the SMM group, whose spokesperson is none other than prominent outdoors writer and former President of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, Chris Townsend, himself a Cairngorms local.
Chris says: “The SMM campaign group is hugely encouraged with the level of support we’ve received so far, but with only four days to go until the Highland Council’s South Area Planning Application Committee meeting, we want to send a very clear message to the councillors that has been a driving force behind the campaign since the very start - Allt Duine is a wind farm too far.”
One aspect of the process that the group finds puzzling is that the Highland Council Planning Officer has recommended Plannng Committe members not to object to the Allt Duine proposal, yet recommended an objection to a smaller, but similar wind farm project in the Moy area. Something which the SMM views as 'inconsistent' and against the Council's own new draft guidelines on Wind Farms.
As a result, the Moy proposal has gone to a public Inquiry, but the Allt Duine proposal has not, Chris Townsend sums it up like this:
“The Moy wind farm proposal has already gone to Inquiry. All SMM campaigners are asking for is a level playing field. We believe that the only fair outcome is that both wind farms are considered by the same decision maker in a Public Inquiry. The only way that the Council can guarantee this is by also objecting to Allt Duine for exactly the same single reason, namely in reliance on the draft Spatial Guidance that applies to Moy. Anything else would be grossly inconsistent and unjust.”
To put it all in perspective, there are no fewer than 11 wind farms either already in existence or in the planning stages on the fringes of the Cairngorm National Park, so it's very much a live issue and not just confined to this single planned development.
Wind farms with their massive turbines straddle an interesting area of ecological ambiguity. On the one hand, wind-generated power has definite green leanings, yet on the other, many regard the towering white turbines and the noise they makes as utterly inappropriate in areas of natural beauty like our National Parks.
What Can You Do?
If you want to know more about what's going on, head over to the Save the Monadhliath Mountains (SMM) campaign group web site at www.savemonadhliathmountains.com where there's an on-line petition opposing the project along with guidance on writing to local councillors and lobbying MPs and MEPs.
Around 1200 individuals and organisations such as Walk Highlands and Scotland-Landscapes have already given their backing to the campaign.