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Claims wild setting of Wolf of Badenoch's castle will be ruined by Lethen wind farm plan


By Gavin Musgrove

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Dave MacLeod by Lochindorb and its castle. He explained: "Most of the turbines will be filling the right-hand side (of the image) in the shallow notch at the end of the ridge." NOTE: Can you blow up the image please so castle is clearer but keep in ridge referred to in caption.
Dave MacLeod by Lochindorb and its castle. He explained: "Most of the turbines will be filling the right-hand side (of the image) in the shallow notch at the end of the ridge." NOTE: Can you blow up the image please so castle is clearer but keep in ridge referred to in caption.

Residents on Dava Moor have said Lochindorb and its historic castle – one time home of the infamous Wolf of Badenoch – will be ruined if 185 metre high wind turbines are allowed to tower over the rugged beauty spot.

Community campaigners are objecting to Fred. Olsen Renewables’ proposals for Lethen Wind Farm which they said will loom large over the loch.

Dave MacLeod, Dava Moor Residents Association spokesman, said: “The developer has the audacity to think that this Special Landscape Area is not special.”

The energy giant has applied to the Scottish Government for the 17-turbine wind farm.

But the group has said the site is ‘bang in the middle’ of the Drynachan, Lochindorb and Dava Moors Special Landscape Area (SLA).

Mr MacLeod said: “Lochindorb Castle is recognised by Historic Environment Scotland as a monument of national significance to which the integrity of its wider setting contributes a great deal. It has played such a huge role in Scottish history.

“It is inconceivable that there ‘would not be an adverse effect on the… setting’ of Lochindorb Castle when the closest turbines will be just over 3000 metres away, most of them clearly visible.

“They are insanely close. The backdrop to the castle will be big turbines. You cannot un-see turbines in the landscape once they have caught your eye.”

Mr MacLeod said that wind turbines have their place but this is not it.

“Everything seems to be over-ridden in the rush to meet renewable energy targets,” he said. “Sacrifices have to be made but not everywhere. It is beyond belief that Fred. Olsen Renewables think that an SLA is the only place they can develop a wind farm – of course it is not.

“I suspect a large part of this is how willing particular estates are to give them a good deal on the land lease amongst a multiple of factors.”

Lochindorb Castle from the Air by Anne Burgess, via Wikimedia Commons.
Lochindorb Castle from the Air by Anne Burgess, via Wikimedia Commons.

Today there are around 14 households dispersed over the Dava Moor. Mr MacLeod observed: “We are pretty much being surrounded by wind farms.”

The turbines of Tom nan Clach can already be seen from Lochindorb. Mr MacLeod explained: “The SLA is threatened not only by the Lethen proposal but also by the Tom nan Clach extension for eight 149.95m turbines added to 13 existing 125m turbines; by Vatenfalls soon-to-be-submitted proposal for the Ourack development for 27 turbines of 185m on the eastern part of the SLA and, of course, by Cairn Duhie.”

Renewable Energy Systems is seeking consent for revised plans for 16 turbines with a maximum height of 149.9m at Cairn Duhie.

The energy giant already has permission for 20 turbines at 110 metres to tip at the same site, granted by Scottish ministers in 2017 despite strong opposition including from the Cairngorms National Park Authority.

Dava Moor Residents Association lodged its objection to the Lethen proposal ahead of the official consultation deadline on Saturday but Mr MacLeod said late submissions are still accepted by the Scottish Govenment’s Energy Consents Unit.

The site sits 1.1km north of the national park’s boundary and just west of the B9007 Carrbridge-Nairn road.

Lochindorb Caslte. Picture: Des Colhoun, via Wikimedia Commons.
Lochindorb Caslte. Picture: Des Colhoun, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Highland Council region has 27 SLA designations, each chosen for their scenic quality.

The Drynachan, Lochindorb and Dava Moors SLA description concludes: “Key characteristics are its sense of spaciousness, wide views and sparse human presence...

“It retains a strong sense of tranquillity as well as some wildness qualities which are emphasised by an almost complete absence of built structures.”

Lochindorb is popular with campers, swimmers, anglers, walkers, cyclists, ornithologists and canoeists amongst others.

Grantown Community Council is supporting the residents’ stance and has put in its own objection.

Chairwoman Linda Coe stated in their response: “The community council re-iterates two fundamental concerns: the first is the effect this proposal would have on the Drynachan, Lochindorb and Dava Moors SLA and the second is the worrying and negative implications for tourism in the area and as a consequence for businesses in Grantown.”

Cromdale and Advie Community Council has not objected after receiving no complaints from residents.

Chairman Carl Stewart stated in its response: “I am in support of the application and the opportunities it will bring to the area both short term and longer term.”

The west walls and turrets of Lochindorb Castle. Picture: Des Colhoun.
The west walls and turrets of Lochindorb Castle. Picture: Des Colhoun.

Fred. Olsen Renewables said it had been working closely with the local community on the proposed development.

Julie Aitken, senior project manager, said: “The feedback that we have gathered, alongside the results of our independent technical assessments, has helped to inform our final designs.

“Our application has undergone rigorous technical assessment. The final layout and submitted documents demonstrate that our plans are appropriate for the location and that the benefits associated with the proposals outweigh any perceived impacts.

“We hope to continue our conversations with the local community throughout the determination process – helping to ensure that our plans can make a substantial contribution towards Scotland’s net zero targets and deliver substantial economic and social benefits locally.

“I would encourage anyone that wishes to discuss the plans further to get in touch.”

The proposals include a ‘unique’ fuel poverty programme to help locals cut their energy bills and a ‘substantial’ community benefit fund.

The applicant also intends creating a new route – Dunearn footpath – leading from the B9007 to a viewpoint and picnic area with views to Lochindorb Castle

Further information can be found at www.lethenwindfarm.co.uk and here at the Scottish Energy Consents Unit.


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