A DECISION to give the go-ahead for a 67-turbine wind farm near Fort Augustus has been branded insane and shameful and a sad day for Scotland.
This was the reaction of anti-wind farm campaigner Lyndsey Ward who blasted the decision to give the farm at Stronelarig, near Glendoe, the green light in the face of stiff opposition.
She said: "This is a sad sad day for Scotland. An appalling decision for an appalling wind farm. The jobs promised will be short lived and not all local that's for sure. As for the 'benefits' - a tiny percentage of what the owners of this monstrosity will rake in - paid for by even the poorest in our society.
"What a legacy this government is leaving - the destruction of our most precious asset - our landscape. This is a truly insane and shameful decision. I hope those who passed this are proud of themselves because those that care about deeply about Scotland, the environment, the wildlife and local people's livelihoods are certainly not."
SNP energy minmister Fergus Ewing announced today that Stronelarig, which is claimed will power the equivalet of up to 114,000 homes in the area and generate up to £30 million of benefits to the Highlands, has been granted planning consent.
The proposed wind farm, which will be developed by SSE Renewables on the Garrogie Estate, will have a maximum generating capacity of around 242MW.
The highly contentious scheme was opposed by the John Muir Trust, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage among others.
Conservationist group JMT claimed it "would destroy the character" of an area of wild land and sought a judicial review in the Court of Session to look into Highland Council's decision to approve the application, but it later withdrew the action.
The developers claim Stronelarig will bring up to £15 million of benefits to the local community over the 25-year lifetime of the development with an additional £15 million to go to the Highland-wide Sustainable Development Fund, energy minister Fergus Ewing has announced.
The construction phase is expected to create more than 100 jobs.
The original application was for 83 turbines with 16 turbines being refused consent, in order to mitigate landscape and visual impacts.
Mr Ewing said: "The Stronelairg wind farm will create jobs both in its construction, and during its lifetime.
"Once it is up and running, the wind farm will save thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, and will be able to produce enough electricity to power thousands of homes in the Highlands.
"As well as bringing benefits to the local community, the Stronelairg wind farm will also benefit the wider Highland region through the provision of a Sustainable Development Fund."
The minister added: "Wind farms, like Stronelairg, play an important part in helping Scotland reach its target of the equivalent of 100 per cent of electricity demand generated from renewables.
"We are already providing over a third of the UK’s renewable electricity generation and helping to keep the lights on across our islands at a time where there is an increasingly tight gap between electricity supply and demand."