MOUNTAINEERING leaders are objecting to plans to erect a wind farm near Rannoch Moor, fearing it could cause damage to a landscape that has a "special place in people's hearts".
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland claimed the Talladh-a-Bheithe project would involve 24 turbines 125 metres tall, together with the associated bulldozed access tracks, buildings and infrastructure, on an area of raised moorland between Loch Rannoch and Loch Ericht.
Chief officer David Gibson said it would affect views from Schiehallion, the Ben Alder massif, the mountains above Glen Lyon and Loch Tay and some above the Drumochter Pass.
He claimed it would be visible from the main A82 on the far side of Rannoch Moor and from Buachaille Etive Mor.
Mr Gibson said: "We support the Scottish Government's drive to develop renewable energy in all its forms and have welcomed the new planning policy which aims to balance the need for renewable energy with significant protection for wild land. This proposal presents ministers with the opportunity to prove they are serious about protecting our most precious wild landscapes."
The mountaineering council says there are 54 Munros - mountains more than 3,000ft high - and Corbetts - peaks of between 2,500 and 3,000ft - within 21 miles of the site, from which the development would be visible.
Mr Gibson said Schiehallion, Rannoch Moor and the route to Glencoe all had a "very special place in people's hearts and in Scottish culture".
He added that the proposal would affect an area that has a unique landscape character offering panoramic views over a fantastic area of wild land.
Mr Gibson continued: "It is a stunning landscape vista which is very sensitive to any form of intrusive human activity and an increasingly rare and valuable experience in Scotland. Any presumed benefit from this development would be far outweighed by the damage it would do to such a distinctive landscape which is vital not only to highland Perthshire's identity but also to Scotland's international image."
He added "There might be a reason for the approval of this proposal if there was a dearth of onshore wind farm developments coming forward to achieve the Scottish Government's energy goals, but this is not the case, so Talladh-a-Bheithe cannot be considered a necessary development, far less an essential one, and it's certainly not in the national interest."
The council has written a letter to the government outlining its objections.
A spokeswoman for Talladh-a-Bheithe Wind Farm Ltd, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dutch company Eventus BV, said: "Our proposals have developed throughout an extensive consultation process in response to community and statutory consultee feedback. We have worked hard with our team of technical experts over the last six years to develop a carefully balanced project and have sought to design the wind farm in a natural bowl of the estate - minimising views of the turbines from key areas around Loch Rannoch."
She said that if the company's proposals were given planning consent, they would make a valuable contribution towards Scottish and UK Government energy targets.
"In addition, in line with best practice guidance, they present a range of unique community benefit opportunities, including community ownership," she said.