Conservationists have called on SSE to scrap plans for a wind farm in sensitive peatland after independent findings questioned its green credentials.

RSPB Scotland claims that a 39-turbine development, due to be examined a delayed public inquiry starting today, could take almost 25 years to 'pay back' the carbon impacts of its construction.

SSE's Strathy South wind farm in north Sutherland, would operate for 25 years.

It is supported by the local community, who sees the financial support it would provide as a means to fighting depopulation. In particular that it would expand the existing 33 turbine Strathy North scheme, which has created jobs and generates more than £170,000 a year for community projects.

RSPB agrees that wind farms reduce carbon emissions by displacing more polluting power stations from the electricity grid.

But a spokesman for SSE said "The RSPB is clearly entitled to put its anti Strathy South spin into the media based on arguments that it is putting into the inquiry process, but there are two sides to every story."