Back to News
|THE prospect of Loch Ness being
encircled by wind farms has drawn closer as it emerged a location to
the south west of Drumnadrochit has now been earmarked as a
Airtricity, the renewable development division of Scottish and
Southern Energy, has submitted a planning application to Highland
Council for the erection of meteorological masts at Balmacaan,
between Drumnadrochit and Invermoriston - an area which could also
house Scotland's largest hydro-electric power station.
Over the next three years, data will be gathered and assessed for
the site's suitability to house a wind farm while environmental
investigations have been on-going for the past year and will
continue for another two years.
The latest revelation comes amid growing concern about the
proliferation of windfarms in the area.
Last week, controversial proposals for a 33-turbine wind farm at
Dunmaglass were backed by the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and
Strathspey planning applications committee which also approved a
20-turbine scheme at Corriegarth, Gorthleck, in January.
Plans have also been unveiled recently for 55 turbines at Moy - one
of the largest wind farms in the Highlands - on a site next to the
existing 40 turbine wind farm at Farr.
Pat Wells, convener of Stop Highland Wind Farms campaign, was
dismayed to hear of the Balmacaan development.
"We are not far from having a circle of wind farms around Loch
Ness," she said. "Loch Ness and Cannich and the Great Glen area is
one of the major tourist attractions of the Highlands..
"The idea that tourists will flock to see turbines is ludicrous but
that is what the Scottish minister Jim Mather suggested.
"This one at Balmacaan is yet another one which will add to the
cumulative impact. I just wish people would realise the huge visual
impact of these and also the damage to the natural environment and
the increase in fuel poverty which every single wind farm adds." She
maintained that electricity customers were subsidising wind farm
developments. "It is an indirect tax yet Scotland has the worst fuel
poverty of anywere in the UK," said Mrs Wells who also queried their
"There was virtually no electricity generated by wind from mid
December until March in one of the coldest spells for over 30 years.
If we had been relying on wind farm electricity, we would have had
to light candles." Although Mrs Wells was not familiar with the
Balmacaan site under consideration, she queried whether it would be
built on peat. "If it is, damaged peat causes the release of carbon
dioxide," she said. "The irony is all these areas are good for
wildlife and for tourism and yet they are being destroyed." Concerns
about the possibility of a wind farm at Balmacaan will be discussed
by Glen Urquhart Community Council at its next meeting at the end of
Chairman David Fraser said the community council was aware of the
application for the meterological masts but had not put in a
However, he expected local residents would want to know answers to
A spokesman for SSE said the investigations were at an early stage.
The wind farm is just one renewable energy project currently being
explored by SSE in the Highlands.
In November, it announced plans for Scotland's largest hydro
electric power station also at Balmacaan. The company is looking to
build a pumped storage scheme capable of producing up to 600
megawatts of electricity.
The Glen Urquhart Community Council will meet at Craigmonie Centre,
Glen Urquhart High School, on 26th April at 7.30pm.