Highlands & Islands

MSPs urged to take action on turbines near Loch Ness

Tree trunk in Loch Ness Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption MSPs heard that hundreds of turbines are proposed within a 22-mile radius of the loch

Campaigners have told MSPs that time is running out "to save" Loch Ness and the Great Glen from wind farms.

Holyrood's petitions committee heard that 500 turbines have been consented to, or are in the planning stage, within a 22-mile radius of the loch.

James Treasurer, of Friends of the Great Glen group, described the scale of development as "distressing".

MSPs agreed to seek evidence from Highland Council, Scottish Renewables and the government on the situation.

Friends of the Great Glen has submitted a petition to the Scottish Parliament.

It argues that current planning processes do not afford the area with enough protection.

The committee heard that the figure of 500 turbines was drawn from data collected by Highland Council and Scottish Natural Heritage.

'Extremely concerned'

Mr Treasurer told MSPs: "Our concern is the multitude of wind-farm developments that is being planned and in the pipeline for the Great Glen area and the Loch Ness area."

Infrastructure needed to support wind farms widened their impact, the committee heard.

Mr Treasurer said: "The distressing thing is not even just the wind turbines - because these are at remote locations it is going to involve hundreds of miles of pylons to connect these to the national grid, hundreds of miles of access roads, building of sub-stations. So in fact it is going to be a big industrial complex for about 30 miles on each side of the Great Glen.

"We are extremely concerned about it and as to whether the planning protections adequately protect this area."

He added: "If the Scottish government, together with Highland Council, doesn't act in the next year to two years it will be too late to save the Great Glen as we know it."

Friends of the Great Glen wants MSPs to urge the Scottish government to take steps to designate Loch Ness and the Great Glen as a National Scenic Area and to make an application for the area to be afforded World Heritage protection.

The committee has agreed to write to Highland Council, Scottish National Heritage, Scottish Renewables, the John Muir Trust and the government.

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