A conservation group has urged politicians to act to protect the country’s scenic Highlands from further wind-farm developments.
The Friends of the Great Glen group says the Great Glen and Loch Ness area is under threat from a “multitude” of planning applications which could see the creation of hundreds of turbines and industrial infrastructure.
The group, which has submitted a petition on the issue to the Scottish Parliament, argues that current planning processes do not afford the tourist destination with enough protection.
Figures from Highland Council and Scottish National Heritage show that 500 turbines have been consented to or are in the planning stage within a 22-mile radius of Loch Ness.
James Treasurer, of Friends of the Great Glen, told Holyrood’s Public Petitions Committee: “Our concern is the multitude of wind-farm development that is being planned and in the pipeline for the Great Glen area and the Loch Ness area.
“The distressing thing is not even just the wind turbines – because these are at remote locations it is going to involve hundreds of miles of pylons to connect these to the national grid, hundreds of miles of access roads, building of sub-stations, so in fact it is going to be a big industrial complex for about 30 miles on each side of the Great Glen.
“We are extremely concerned about it and as to whether the planning protections adequately protect this area. Our evidence is that, with the scale of development, it doesn’t.”
He added: “If the Scottish Government, together with Highland Council, doesn’t act in the next year to two years it will be too late to save the Great Glen as we know it.”
Friends of the Great Glen wants MSPs to urge the Scottish Government to take steps to designate Loch Ness and the Great Glen as a National Scenic Area and to make an application for the area to be afforded World Heritage protection.
Appropriate steps to discourage further wind-turbine developments and support the restoration of sites damaged by wind turbines should also be taken, the group has said.
The committee has agreed to write to Highland Council, Scottish National Heritage, Scottish Renewables, the John Muir Trust and the Scottish Government.