ENERGY consultants have started a survey in the Ruisaurie area near Beauly, setting alarm bells ringing among anti wind farm campaigners who previously fiercely opposed a scheme that would have spanned three estates.
Multimillionaire owners of the Farley Estate at Ruisaurie, Steven and Vanessa Walduck, were part of a project with partners on the neighbouring Erchless and Breakachy estates.
They declined to comment on the revelation that Atmos Consulting, which has had commissions from numerous wind farm companies, had been brought in by an unnamed entrepreneur.
The previous "Allt Carach" proposal by Abo Wind for up to 25 turbines at Kilmorack was ultimately dropped in 2015 because there was thought to be insufficient wind potential.
Vocal and local anti wind farm campaigner Lyndsey Ward fears another scheme may be on the cards.
Neighbouring Breakachy Estate owner Kate Macpherson denied knowledge of any proposed wind farm. Erchless has declined to comment.
No major power company would confirm recruiting ecologists for any new project in the area.
However, Anthony Winney, marketing manager of Inverness-based Atmos Consulting, referenced "Ruisaurie" when approached for a comment.
He said: "We’re undertaking early stage ecology surveys and assessment in the area for a confidential client."
Asked if it was part of groundwork for a wind farm proposal, he said: "It is just ecological surveys we’re carrying out."
Mrs Ward said: "We’ve been threatened in this close community by wind developers since 2010. On one occasion, an attempt by developers to gain access through Aigas Community Forest failed because of fierce objection by the local people.
"Fast forward a few years and we were faced with a massive proposal from German developers Abo Wind. Multiple, giant turbines were to be speared across Erchless, Breakachy Farm and Farley.
"The community united and hundreds of local people and businesses joined our campaign against this unwanted attention from the subsidy hunting multinational.
"Abo Wind finally pulled out citing ‘not enough wind’ after finally getting a measuring mast up after appealing to the Scottish Government.
"Now we’re threatened again despite the ‘no wind’ statement from the previous outfit."
She added: "We’ve had eight years of unwanted speculation from landowners, some so rich it’s mind boggling that they would want to despoil their land for such a purpose.
"This community will fight this latest threat with everything we have."
Sir John Lister-Kaye, founder of the popular Aigas Field Centre, said: "Strathglass and the Affric glens are famous worldwide for their natural beauty and exceptional wildlife. Tourism is the principal employer and mainstay of the rural economy here.
"In recent decades eco-tourism and wildlife study have been pioneered in this area and contribute hugely to the local economy. Any development that threatens this situation is most unwelcome."
Mike Spencer-Nairn, who owns Eagle Brae luxury log cabins at nearby Struy, said: "It’s very worrying news for all of us here in the glen, where there is almost 100 per cent lack of enthusiasm for a wind farm here."
Scottish Natural Heritage has not been approached about a survey.