A CONTROVERSIAL application to erect massive turbines 447ft high in a scenic Highland glen will be decided by planning appeal inquiry.
Campaigners against the 13-turbine wind farm in Glenurquhart were jubilant when Highland Council last year rejected the plan by Force 9 Energy and EDF at Cnoc an Eas in the glen, not far from Loch Ness.
But their joy was short-lived when the developers lodged an appeal against the refusal of planning permission.
Now Scottish Government planning reporter Timothy Brian will hear evidence over four days from Tuesday, March 7 in Cannich Village Hall.
There was massive local objection to the scheme, which campaigners say will dominate the landscape near Balnain village.
Local residents formed an action group – Stop Turbines At Glenurquhart (Stag) – to successfully fight off the energy giants, and now it is gearing up for this latest chapter.
The reporter will consider the visual impact on the landscape, including the cumulative impact from other wind farms in the area, and the impact on residents’ amenity.
Mr Brian will also have to consider what impact the wind farm might have on the setting of the ancient chambered cairn at Corrimony.
There has been concerns voiced that Loch Ness ospreys featured in the hit TV series Highland – Scotland’s Wild Heart, could be threatened by the massive blades of the turbines as they hunt in the area.
Nature lover Dan Luscombe has voiced concerns for the safety of Scotland’s rarest bird, the Slavonian grebe.
Mr Luscombe, whose home at Balnain overlooks Loch Meiklie, pointed out the Loch Ness ospreys are within easy flying distance of the trout rich waters of Loch Meiklie and might be struck by the blades.
He said: “Should the Cnoc an Eas scheme go ahead, many birds including this osprey will be in grave danger.”
Slavonian grebes nest in close-by lochs and are classified as the rarest birds in Scotland, he said.
RSPB Scotland has also previously voiced concerns about the safety of golden eagles and black grouse in and around the Cnoc an Eas area.
Stag spokesman Cliff Green was unavailable for comment, but has previously voiced his strong disappointment that the application was being appealed.
“The developer is showing contempt for the decision of Highland Council and the objections lodged by four community councils and many local residents,” he said.
“If the appeal is successful, the wind farm will have a significant detrimental effect on the local landscape, environment and residential amenity.
“The turbines will be very close to homes and there are real concerns about noise and potential health issues for those living nearby.
“Local residents would be subjected to a 20-month construction period, including a massive increase in heavy lorries travelling through the glen and surrounding area.”