Anti-wind farm campaigners are gearing up to fight plans for another batch of turbines near Loch Ness.
The 17 towers – each standing 415ft-high – are being proposed by Force 9 Energy for hills close to the world-famous beauty spot.
The developer claims the devices, part of the Cnoc an Eas project near Balnain, will generate enough electricity to power 87,000 homes per year.
However, local residents have hit out at the “relentless” tide of wind farm applications in the area, which is close to the renowned Glen Affric nature reserve.
Several more developments are either approved or planned for the west side of Loch Ness, including SSE’s proposals for 32 turbines at Bhlaraidh, northwest of Invermoriston, which were passed at the start of this year.
More than 1,200 people have also objected to the Glen Affric wind farm, which is planned on the slopes above Beinn Mhor near Tomich, just a few miles away.
Kate Morgan, a Cannich resident who has been involved in several protests, said: “I feel we are fighting one wind farm and then, whack, another one comes along. My worry is that if you put dots on the map of where they all are, you will end up with them joined up as one big wind farm.
“It’s a beautiful area and it’s concerning what they are doing. Folk will see the turbines once and they will never come back.”
Steve Byford, chairman of Kilmorack community council, said: “It’s really upsetting and disappointing. If you put these turbines up it is just going to kill the area and it will affect local people’s livelihoods. It’s like the modern day Highland Clearances around here.”
Local anti-windfarm campaigner Lyndsey Ward said: “This is just relentless. It’s going to affect a lot of the same people who are fighting the Beinn Mhor plans just now. I have heard people say that this won’t be finished in their lifetime, and these people are going to have to deal with that. It’s really quite sad.
“We do our best to get the experts in and get people together that are prepared to help, but it’s becoming beyond the lay person to fight them because the process is so complex.”
Force 9 Energy has already completed a 29-turbine wind farm at Berryburn in Moray and one in Ayrshire. The firm also has plans for another five schemes elsewhere in Scotland.
Bosses are now planning a series of public exhibitions to give more information about the fresh proposals, which will be on land north of Loch Meiklie.
Andrew Smith, development manager at Force 9 Energy, said: “We have undertaken extensive initial assessment of the site and believe it is suitable for a sensibly proportioned and carefully designed windfarm. We will now carry out further work and seek the views of the local communities and the various statutory consultees.
“As a responsible developer we are keen to have an active and meaningful dialogue with the local community from the start of the process. We would urge people to come along to one of the public exhibitions, discuss the proposals with us and give us constructive feedback.”
Mr Smith added that the wind farm could bring economic benefits for local businesses and the wider community.
The developer is working with EDF Energy Renewables which would build, own and operate the wind farm. The power company will also be exploring the option of shared ownership with local communities.
The public exhibitions will take place in Glenurquhart Public Hall on Monday, November 24, from 1pm-8pm and then in Kilmorack Community Hall on Tuesday, November 25, from 11am-6pm.
Another two will be held in Kiltarlity Community Hall on Wednesday, November 26, from 10am-2pm and in Cannich Hall from 4pm to 8.30pm.
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