Scotland's mountaineers are asking Highland tourism businesses to withdraw from an important industry awards scheme because it is being backed financially by one of the largest wind farm developers.

SSE was announced this week as the new sponsor for the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards, which were established to recognise and reward the "best of the best" tourism businesses of all sizes in the Highlands and Islands.

But the power giant's role in developing wind energy projects across Scotland make it unsuitable for the role, according to outdoor enthusiasts who say some planned wind farms will scar the internationally celebrated Highland landscape.

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Writer and broadcaster Cameron McNeish and the wild land charity, the John Muir Trust, have expressed their anger at the choice of SSE, and now the Mountaineering Council of Scotland has added its opposition.

Its chief officer, Dave Gibson, said the news that SSE was the new sponsor should come as a substantial embarrassment to all those involved in the tourism industry and those living in the region.

He said: "This company is responsible for some of the most undesirable wind farm applications made in Scotland" .

But a spokesman for SSE said: "We believe our sponsorship of the Highland and Islands Tourism Awards is a perfect fit with SSE's standing as a sustainable company that adds value to the local community."