If it were possible to lift the Monadhliath and drop it in south or middle England, it would be a National Park, visited by tens of thousands of people every year. Unfortunately, these hills are in the wrong place: sandwiched between the Cairngorms, an actual National Park, and Loch Ness, a would-be World Heritage site.
That is why it is deemed acceptable – by Highland Council, and possibly the Scottish Government – to cover these hills with wind turbines, despite the opposition of more than 1,500 people, the RSPB and the John Muir Trust.
The council today approved plans for 33 turbines on the Dunmaglass Estate, although the ultimate decision lies with the government due to the size of the scheme.
Council officers argued the landscape of the Monadhliath is of ‘limited value’ and carries no designated status. The theory beggars belief. The Monadthliath may not be the Cairngorms, but it is a vast, pristine landscape. ‘Limited value’ compared to other parts of the Highlands it may be, but how about compared to the rest of the UK?
Some years ago Cameron McNeish wrote of his frustration that political and corporate forces are determined ‘to steal Scotland’s soul in the name of green energy’. He’s right. Scotland is on the cusp of leading the world in marine energy, yet decision-makers continue to allow the country’s wild land to be desecrated by windfarms.