THE Scottish Government’s approval for the 20-turbine wind farm on designated “wild land” just south of Altnaharra came as a profound shock for everyone concerned about protecting Scotland’s unique landscape assets.

Situated on the south-east part of Scottish Natural Heritage’s area 37 (Foinaven-Ben Hee) and in close proximity to area 35 (Ben Klibreck – Armine Forest) it raised serious concerns about the vulnerability of all 42 designated “wild land” areas to commercial wind farm development.

Your revelation that the developer resorted to what I consider less than straight methods to influence the decision is perhaps no surprise (”Petition for wind farm signed by outsiders”, The Herald, December 6). It does increase concerns about how supine our Government ministers are to selfish commercial and local interests.

Loading article content

The original decision to go against professional advice seemed perverse. The value of peat land as the most efficient natural sequestration process for CO2 is recognised, yet this industrialisation of such land destroys this valuable natural process and releases 6,000 years of accumulated carbon back into the atmosphere. The commercial value of our landscape is incalculable, as is the physiological health of all who enjoy either passive or active recreation in the Scottish Highlands. The Sutherland landscape is particularly vulnerable to intrusive wind farm industrialisation. It is a landscape of wide open space and expansive skies, beautifully punctuated with remarkable stand-alone mountains and a myriad of lochs. It belongs to the world’s people to appreciate. Our Government ought to recognise its responsibility to protect this asset for everyone.

People come from all over the world to marvel at the exceptional open spaces and “wildness” of the A836 Lairg to Tongue road. Views that extend from Ben More Assynt in the west to Ben Hope and Ben Loyal in the North and Ben Klibreck in the immediate east. They will be dismayed and upset if this project goes ahead.

I recognise that there is some local support for this industrial scale project, however I do not believe that decisions on a national asset should be the sole prerogative of the landowner and communities which stand to gain from financial inducements.

Sutherland, in common with many parts of the Highlands has suffered from historic commercial exploitation focussed on the advantages for a privileged few rather than the long-term benefit of the many. The Scottish Government should invest in the infrastructure of these remote communities, financially support genuine local enterprise, help young families set up home and, yes, commission local renewable schemes, including wind generation, which are of a scale appropriate to the location and solely of benefit to the local community.

Norman McNab,

14 Branziert Road North,

Killearn.

I MUST express my concern about the Scottish Government's approval for the first wind farm to be built within a designated wild land area at Creag Riabhach in Sutherland. As well as questioning why we have “designated wild land areas” when the Government is quite happy to ignore the whole ethos behind the concept, surely there is something wrong when the majority of petitioners in favour of the 22 turbine scheme are reportedly from places like Fraserburgh, Dunfermline and Doncaster. They can hardly be termed "local", a premise upon which the SNP Government supposedly relies when considering a wind farm application and its ramifications.

It leads one to suspect that the SNP Government's professed concern for the environment is in fact a sham.

Bob MacDougall,

Oxhill, Kippen, Stirlingshire.