Highlands & Islands

Opposition to planned peat bog centre at Forsinard

Planned Peatland Partnership field centre Image copyright RSPB Scotland
Image caption The field centre will be built on the site of an existing property

Residents of a tiny community in Scotland's Flow Country have said a planned new field centre will be an eyesore in the landscape.

The Peatland Partnership has proposed building the research site near Forsinard as part of a £9.6m peat bog regeneration project.

The Flow Country, which includes large parts of Caithness and Sutherland, has one of Europe's largest blanket bogs.

The partnership said the centre complied with planning rules.

A house on the edge of Forsinard used as accommodation for RSPB Scotland volunteers is to be knocked down to make way for the new centre.

Some locals had hoped the village's hotel could be taken over and converted into a field centre, but the Peatland Partnership did not think it was fit for the role.

Local resident Linda Bower said the community of about 12 people were opposed to the new building.

She told BBC Radio Scotland there were concerns that it would be an eyesore and draw increased numbers of people to a "remote, isolated and fragile community".

Ms Bower said residents were not against the effort to regenerate ancient blanket bog habitat.

Image copyright Andy hay/rspb images
Image caption The Flow Country includes large parts of Caithness and Sutherland

RSPB Scotland, a member of the Peatland Partnership, said the centre was a "key component" of the project.

A spokesman said: "We appreciate that some local residents were unhappy with the proposed centre and took the opportunity to object during the planning appraisal process.

"The plans for the field centre plans were tested against all the relevant policies by professional planning officials and the objections lodged by residents were considered by the full planning committee of Highland Council, including the councillors for the local ward.

"It received unanimous backing from the planning committee and was welcomed by the local elected representatives."

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