SCOTTISH Energy Minister Fergus Ewing today refused planning consent for a controversial 23-turbine wind farm between Kiltarlity and Drumnadrochit.
The decision on Tuesday has been welcomed by anti-windfarm campaigners who say if the proposed turbine at Blairmore Forest had gone through it would have set a "terrifying president".
Mr Ewing agreed with the findings of an earlier Public Inquiry Report that the number and height of the turbines would appear out of scale with the surrounding landscape and it would have significant adverse landscape and visual impacts.
Mr Ewing was also concerned that the visual impact from nearby properties and the likely noise from the proposal would be detrimental to the residential amenities of several nearby properties.
Developer Druim Ba Sustainable Energy (DBSE) had wanted to site 23 turbines at Blairmore Forest. If the proposal had gone through the at 490ft turbines would have been among the highest in Scotland.
Highland councillors objected to the plans back in September 2011 after visiting several locations in the Kiltarlity and Beauly areas to get an idea of the visual impact.
Their objection meant a public local inquiry was held with Scottish ministers having the final say.
Mr Ewing said: "Scotland has enormous potential for renewable energy that is delivering jobs and investment across Scotland, and I am determined to ensure communities all over Scotland reap the benefit from renewable energy – but not at any cost and we will ensure a balanced approach in taking forward this policy, as we have in the past and will in future.
"The Scottish Government wants to see the right developments in the right places and Scottish planning policy is clear that the design and location of any wind farm should reflect the scale and character of the landscape and should be considered environmentally acceptable."
Scotland Against Spin (SAS) chair Graham Lang said: "It is a clear warning to predatory wind developers who assume the Scottish Government will let them get away with projects regardless of the harm they do to local communities.
"Passing this – which would have become the tallest wind farm in Scotland with turbines standing 490 feet tall in an iconic tourist area near Loch Ness – would have set a terrifying precedent.
"The applicants made much of the thousands of homes the windfarm was supposed to supply with electricity, the thousand jobs they claimed it would create and the £8 million community benefit the project could produce during its lifetime. Yet these alleged benefits did not cancel out the clear negative impacts of the windfarm on landscape, visual and residential amenity. It is significant that the Scottish Government endorsed the Reporter’s findings on noise."
Dave Thompson, SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, also welcomed the news that consent has been refused for the proposed 23 turbine Druim Ba wind farm.
He said: "This decision demonstrates that the local planning system in conjunction in this case with the Minister is working, and takes into account local objections before any development is given the go ahead.
"I remain in principle supportive of renewable energy, but only in cases where it is compatible with the planning system."