A massive wind farm capable of powering the whole of the north of Scotland could be built in the Moray countryside.
Force 9 Energy and EDF Energy Renewables want to erect 63 turbines up to 570ft tall to the south of Forres.
The huge development, which has been christened the Clash Gour wind farm, will surround the already operational Berry Burn turbines – but with blades reaching 250ft higher.
Last night anti-wind farm campaigners branded the scale of the new proposals “obscene”.
But the firms stressed the development’s potential “multi million pound” injection into local firms working on the project.
Brian Higgs, chairman of Finderne Community Council, said: “It looks like this one is going to be very big compared to what we have seen from Berry Burn and other wind farms in the area.
“That’s going to make the consultation process very important because it will have a pretty dramatic impact on the area.
“It’s not possible to take a stance on it at the moment until we see more detail but the fact Force 9 is engaging with us at this early stage is very encouraging.”
Up to 63 turbines between 440ft and 570ft tall to the blade tip will form the Clash Gour wind farm. However, the team behind the project has stressed that total and height could change as the project progresses.
The turbines will be clustered in pockets to the north, east and southwest of the Berry Burn wind farm about seven miles south of Forres.
Due to the size of the development an application will be submitted directly to the Scottish Government in the coming weeks.
Force 9 Energy estimates the project could generate enough electricity to power up to 190,000 homes.
A spokeswoman said the “unique” landscape could accommodate a large wind farm with “careful design”.
But Graham Lang, a member of the anti-wind farm group Scotland Against Spin, cast doubt on whether the turbines would ever reach their full potential.
He said: “With Berry Burn, Pauls Hill, Kellas and Rothes, to name four nearby wind farms, the area is already overrun with turbines – the scale of this proposal is obscene.
“The fact of the matter is there is no requirement for any more wind farms in Scotland.
“The grid cannot cope and this will just be a cash cow, if it’s consented, with whoever ends up owning it being paid more not to generate electricity than it will ever earn from supplying it.”
During a series of public exhibitions later this month the developers intend to explore the possibility of the turbines becoming owned by the community.
Andrew Smith, head of Force 9’s planning and development, explained the firm was eager to work with residents and those interested in the proposals during the planning process.
He said: “Although the Clash Gour proposals are at an early stage, Force 9 considers proactive and early community consultation to be a really important part of the planning process.
“Our aim is to ensure that local people are given the opportunity to give their views directly to our project team at all stages of the development process.
“The final number and location of the turbines will be guided by the various technical and environmental assessments and by the ongoing consultation with the community and interested stakeholders.”