Highlands & Islands

Strathy South wind farm public inquiry begins

A public inquiry into a controversial wind farm development in Sutherland has begun.

Plans for the Strathy South wind farm have already led to a row between SSE, the company behind the scheme, and environmental charity RSPB Scotland.

It said that it was a strong supporter of most wind farms because they reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

But it said the Strathy South scheme would cause harm to the peatland habitats and the birds they support.

The proposed 39-turbine wind farm would be situated in the internationally important peatlands of the Flow Country in Sutherland.

RSPB Scotland claimed the wind farm could take at least fours years, and potentially as many as 24.8 years, to save the amount of carbon which would be released during its construction.

SSE said the public was being misled by opponents of the scheme, and pointed to what it described as strong local support for the scheme.

It said the project would help pay for the restoration of thousands of hectares of damaged peatland in the Flow Country.

Rob Gibson, SNP MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, raised concerns that the needs of local residents are being ignored.

He said: "Many conservation interests based far from the north Sutherland coast are having their say about the Strathy South wind farm proposal ahead of the public local inquiry which starts to weigh up the evidence of SSE's plans.

"Their concerns are for bird breeding, feeding, flight patterns and depth of peat. But will our local and national planning system support or dash the sustainable future of the most endangered species around Strathy and Bettyhill, the human population, in this clearances country which has far more environmental designations than the Scottish average?"

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