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A fair wind: controversial turbine plan in national scenic area wins approval

A controversial wind-turbine project in a national scenic area on land owned by a conservation body has been given planning permission, writes Richard Baynes.

The application by a community group to build the single turbine on moorland near Achiltibuie on the Coigach coast attracted over 600 objections and messages of support.

Objectors fear the turbine will damage the Assynt-Coigach National Scenic Area and could harm the important local tourist trade.

But the Coigach Community Development Company said the £2m, 900-kilowatt turbine could provide an income of £200,000 a year.

Highland Council planners deferred considering it last month to look closer at the landscape impact. They have now given the scheme the go-ahead.

The community suffers from population loss, housing pressure and overdependence on tourism and fishing, and has lost valuable jobs in recent years.

The company says the money can be used for social housing, business units and to repair and upgrade important pier facilitiies in the surrounding townships.

The site lies within the Ben Mor Coigach estate owned by the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT), but neither they nor other conservation bodies objected. SWT said the turbine would not cause signficant environmental damage and would bring major community benefits.

Special report: a community divided

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