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SSE Renewables in fresh bid for Great Glen wind farm in Monadhliath hills above Fort Augustus

By John Davidson

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SSE has applied for planning permission for a new wind farm near Fort Augustus.
SSE has applied for planning permission for a new wind farm near Fort Augustus.

A new onshore wind farm has been proposed in the hills above Fort Augustus.

SSE Renewables has applied to the Scottish Government to construct and operate a 36-turbine farm.

It would be located 11km south-east of the village in the Monadhliath mountains with a capacity of at least 150MW, according to the developer.

The Cloiche wind farm would be situated close to the existing Stronelairg development which was completed in 2018, and opponents say the new development mimics parts of that scheme that were previously rejected.

However, SSE says it has brought more than £90 million of value to the Great Glen area through the development and construction of renewable projects, supporting nearly 130 jobs.

The submission for Cloiche comes after a second round of local consultation events held in January to allow local residents, community groups and businesses to see and comment on the proposals.

Craig Cunningham, SSE Renewables development project manager for Cloiche, said: “We have taken care to design the wind farm to minimise impact on the environment and have taken local communities’ opinions on board. We hope to build on the support we have received during the consenting process.

“If taken forward, this project will boost the local economy while helping the UK meet its net-zero targets.”

If consented, the proposed project has the potential to power 233,000 homes, equivalent to twice the households in a city the size of Aberdeen.

But wild land protagonists say the new scheme is too similar to some of the turbines which had to be removed from the original Stronelairg plans.

Mike Daniels, head of land management at the John Muir Trust, said: “Society’s drive to reach net-zero carbon as soon as possible should not be at the cost of destroying our precious wild landscapes.

“When the highly damaging Stronelairg wind farm was consented, part of the planning permission was on the basis that these turbines now being applied for under the name of Cloiche, did not go ahead.

“It is difficult to see how or why the planning authorities would now reverse that decision.”

Mountaineering Scotland's conservation and access officer Davie Black added: “We are currently looking at the proposal and have concerns as it appears to have some similarities to the original Stronelairg turbine layout, which had some turbines removed due to their landscape impact.”

A statutory consultation seeking views on the proposal will now be conducted by the Scottish Government and application documents will be available to view online at sse.com/cloiche

Mike Seaton, SSE Renewables director of development, said: “We are committed to enabling the transition to a net-zero world in 2050 and every onshore wind farm we develop has a role to play in getting us there.”

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