The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) has expressed its objection to two planned wind farms on the periphery of the National Park.
The 36-turbine development at Dunmaglass in Strathnairn and the 11-turbine farm at Kildrummy are considered inappropriate on the grounds of unacceptable visual impact, the likely effect on protected species and the potential adverse effect on the local economy.
Reports on both of these developments were presented to the CNPA’s Planning committee in Aboyne on Friday 3 June. Renewable Energy Systems Development Ltd has lodged a planning application with the Scottish Executive for a 36-turbine wind farm in the Monadhliath Mountains some 10km north west of the National Park. Highland Council has formally sought the CNPA’s views on the development.
Aberdeenshire Council has asked the Park Authority to compile a response on its views on N-Power Renewables Ltd’s proposed 11-turbine farm at Hill of Snowy Slack, close to Kildrummy, about 3km from the Park boundary.
Speaking at the meeting, the CNPA’s head of Planning and Development Control, Don McKee said: “Wind farm proposals beyond the boundaries of the Park should be carefully assessed for their visual impact on the landscape and setting of the Park and the impact on the natural heritage. The four aims of the Cairngorms National Park should not stop dead at the boundary but ideally their objectives should be considered beyond the invisible line. Natural heritage issues stretch across boundaries too – such as birds foraging areas and river catchments and their hydrology.”
The CNPA objects to the wind farm at Dunmaglass because of its adverse visual impact on the characteristics of the landscape. Tourism is central to the economy of the Park and views from the Monadliaths and Cairngorm Mountain itself will detract from the unique character of the environment that visitors have come to the Park to enjoy. It also considers that there could potentially be a significant impact on protected species within the Cairngorms National Park such as golden eagles.
CNPA board member Sheena Slimon said: “I am concerned about the potential damage to the flora and fauna and the impact on our tourism industry. Half of visitors coming to the Cairngorms National Park do so because of our wonderful scenery and beautiful views. A wind farm in this location could spoil the enjoyment of hill walkers and those who come here to escape urban life. We cannot afford these large-scale wind farms on the periphery of the park, both from a natural heritage and economic point of view.”
Similar concerns have been expressed in relation to the proposed wind farm at Hill of Snowy Slack. Landscape impacts within the Park, particularly from Morven and the Ladder Hills, have been noted. The potential impact on species such as golden eagles has also been noted as well as the fact that the wind farm would be detrimental to promoting understanding and enjoyment of the Park’s recreational value in terms of its qualities of quietness and remoteness.
Douglas Glass, CNPA board member added: “Energy from renewable resources is something that the Park supports but not at the cost of our unique and valuable landscape and rare species.”
Board member Duncan Bryden added: “What isn’t spelt out in both wind farm reports before today’s committee, is the fact that field sports are important to the economy of the communities that are close to these proposed developments. We talk about wind farms ruining the enjoyment of hill walkers but high spending, affluent visitors who come to these areas could decide to enjoy their sport somewhere else, to the detriment of these communities.”
These reports can be read in full on the Planning page of the website.