A CONTROVERSIAL wind farm in Sutherland has been given the green light by Scottish ministers.
The plans for 18 turbines at Braemore, six kilometres south-west of Lairg,, has been approved following a five-year process and a reduction from the original 27 turbines.
The wind farm attracted 430 objections who raised concerns about the impact on the surrounding scenery and tourism but Scottish Government-appointed reporter Dan Jackman said it would not impact tourism, despite admitting the 126-metre turbines would cause "significant visual change" from the nearby Carbisdale Castle.
The notice of decision, published on the Scottish planning appeals department’s website on Wednesday stated: "The Kyle of Sutherland is a remote, rural area where tourism is an important component of the local and regional economy.
"In turn, the scenic quality of the locality and the Highlands in general are also very important factors for tourism.
"Ministers accept the findings that the proposal would result in a significant visual change to the view from Carbisdale Castle looking towards the wind farm.
"However, ministers agree that no evidence has been found to demonstrate that being able to see wind farms has any significant impact on tourism.
"The reporter and ministers see no reason why the proposal would prevent the reuse of Carbisdale Castle for tourism and leisure purposes."
It also stated that a "wind farm landscape" would not be created, despite it being near the operational Rosehall and Achany wind farms and six miles from the proposed 21-turbine Meall Buidhe on the Croick Estate, near Ardgay.
"Having considered the arguments presented by all parties, ministers agree with the reporter’s reasoning and findings that there would be no significant landscape effects on any designated landscape overall," it said.
"Ministers acknowledge that there would be significant visual effects experienced by nearby residents and road users.
"However, ministers agree with the reporter that these are essentially localised and that while the proposal would increase the extent of the influence of an enlarged wind farm cluster, ministers do not consider that a wind farm landscape would be crated."