Campaigners partied at a Highland beauty spot yesterday after the Scottish Government rejected plans to festoon it with 23 wind turbines.
Proposals tabled by Druim Ba Sustainable Energy for a hillside wood near the village of Kiltarlity were opposed by an “aggressive” public campaign and Highland Council.
However, SNP ministers took the final decision on the scheme and have ruled that the impact on the area’s spectacular scenery and the noise nuisance for residents would be too high a price to pay.
The developer claimed the project would generate £7.7million of community benefits.
Banners reading “We won” were draped over the gates of Blairmore Estate yesterday as about 25 locals danced and toasted their victory with glasses of champagne.
Lyndsey Ward, one of the leading members of the campaign group, said she was “absolutely delighted” and that the decision gave hope to every community trying to stop a windfarm being erected in their area.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing announced yesterday that the application was being rejected because of the “significant adverse” impact on the landscape and likely noise for nearby residents.
The news sparked scenes of celebration from the Druim Ba Say No action group, which has campaigned against the proposal for two years.
Mr Ewing said: “Scotland has enormous potential for renewable energy that is delivering jobs and investment across Scotland.
“I am determined to ensure communities all over Scotland reap the benefit from renewable energy – but not at any cost.
“The Scottish Government wants to see the right developments in the right places and Scottish planning policy is clear that the design and location of any windfarm should reflect the scale and character of the landscape and should be considered environmentally acceptable.”
The 23 turbines would have stood 490ft tall on land at the Blairmore Estate, off the A833 Kiltarlity-Drumnadrochit road.
In April 2011, campaigners from the Druim Ba Say No group flew a red blimp over the property closest to the planned location to illustrate how tall the structures would be.
Highland councillors rejected the proposal at a committee meeting in September 2011 after 330 objections were lodged against the scheme.
The matter then became the subject of a public inquiry, at which the developer said the scheme would create up to 55 jobs and provide £7.7million of community benefits.
It also claimed the turbines would generate 69megawatts of electricity and power 38,000 homes.
Ms Ward said: “We put together an extremely good, aggressive campaign and it gives hope for other communities that, if you don’t want a windfarm in your community, fight them every step of the way and you’ve got a chance.
“This should not have been pursued. It is a disgusting development and trying to foist it on the people of Kiltarlity is shameful.”
The decision to reject the development was welcomed by Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch SNP MSP Dave Thompson.
He said: “This decision demonstrates that the local planning system is working and takes into account local objections before any development is given the go-ahead.
“I remain in principle supportive of renewable energy, but only in cases where it is compatible with the planning system.”
Anti-windfarm campaign group Scotland Against Spin said it was delighted that the Scottish Government had blocked the Druim Ba development near Kiltarlity.
Chairman Graham Lang said it had been a “long, expensive and hard-fought” campaign.
He said: “It is a clear warning to predatory wind developers who assume the Scottish Government will let them get away with projects regardless of the harm they do to local communities.”
Developer Druim Ba Sustainable Energy had argued that a daytime noise limit of 40 decibels should be adopted because of the low background noise levels, but the government reporter examining the application rejected this in favour of a lower limit of 35.
This meant that more than 40 properties would have experienced noise levels above this limit.
Mr Lang added: “The proximity of turbines to people across Scotland is leading to increasing numbers of complaints on noise.”
No one at Druim Ba Sustainable Energy could be contacted for comment.