Opposing sides of a controversial wind farm development in Moray have clashed at a heated public exhibition.
EDF Energy Renewables was in the Cabrach yesterday to update residents on proposals to construct a massive borrow pit to create access roads to the turbines.
But voices were raised when questions were asked about roaming rights through the Glenfiddich Estate site of the wind farm by a protestor opposed to the development for 10 years.
Armed with a folder, packed with correspondence dating back to 2007, Jean Oliver, a member of Moray Local Outdoor Access Forum, grilled the development team about their plans.
However, Darren Cuming, onshore wind developer for EDF, insisted the renewable proposals had been met with approval at every stage so far.
An application to amend and extend the 53 turbines already approved will be subject to a public inquiry next month.
Ms Oliver, who lives in Dufftown, said: “Once it is all built, with all the turbines and all the access roads, it will take away everything that makes the area unique.
“There will be no heather left, no peat left, there will be no Cabrach. That will be it – gone.
“There has been money set aside for improvements to be made to improve core paths in the area, but I have my doubts it will ever be used for that. It will just get swallowed up by funding pots.”
EDF has progressed with a scheme to create a borrow pit on the Glenfiddich Estate from the application still to be decided by the Scottish Government.
Mr Cuming explained it was necessary to start work on the quarry earlier than anticipated, due to the poor quality of stone at a different site identified for excavation.
Originally, plans were approved for 59 turbines – but now EDF wants to amend that to 53 turbines with seven new ones outside the current development.
The current plans include 42 490ft turbines, with the rest of the structures 410ft tall.
Other visitors to the public exhibition at the Acorn Centre in the Cabrach were eager to learn how they would benefit from a proposed £1million annual community benefit fund.
Mr Cuming explained access would be improved as part of the development to encourage visitors to marvel at Scotland’s rugged landscape.
He said: “We’ve had an access strategy agreed about how we bring people into the area. There’s going to be a visitor centre to bring people here.
“The core paths that run through the site will be upgraded as part of the strategy to improve facilities in the area.”