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    Wind farm could affect fishings


    September 30, 2022 - Northern Times

     

      A PROPOSED wind farm with turbines reaching 200 metres high could wreck one of the UK’s most famous fishing spots, the Scottish Government has been warned.

      The manager of Lower Oykel Fishings said the 11-turbine plan at nearby Strath Oykel would jeopardise the survival of salmon and freshwater pearl mussels in the river.

      Writing to Mairi Gougeon, the rural affairs secretary, Steven Mackenzie – who has worked on the River Oykel for 30 years – said the fishing in the area "provides an experience which can only be replicated in a handful of locations worldwide".

      He added the surrounding area "while very much local to us, is something the whole of Scotland can be proud of".

      However, the construction of a major wind farm would put all of this at risk, he warned, adding that visitors – some of whom have come yearly for several decades – were horrified at the proposals.

      He said: "The construction process – traffic, the building of new roads, creation of bridges over these pristine waterways – could be devastating to the salmon population and highly-protected and rare freshwater pearl mussels."

      The EnergieKontor plan is currently being considered by the Scottish Government as it is deemed too large for Highland Council to rule on.

      Under section 36 of the Electricity Act, that means ministers in Edinburgh will rule on the plan directly in coming months.

      But Mr Mackenzie warned Ms Gougeon, who is in charge of fishing, that jobs and the wider economy would be impacted if approval was granted.

      He pointed out that the River Oykel is a Special Area of Conservation and one of few Category 1 rivers in Scotland.

      He added: "This would be a travesty for nature and the environment in this treasured part of the country.

      "In addition to the environmental risk factors, this development could also be significantly detrimental to the local economy.

      "Currently we are fully booked every season, but the threat of enormous turbines and reduced water quality jeopardises all of that.

      "Our fishing guests, some of whom have visited us annually for more than 60 years, are horrified to discover the plans to massively industrialise such a unique and special area."

      Local campaign group No Ring of Steel (NORoS) is campaigning against a number of large developments in the Highlands. Spokesman Ashley Smith said: "These turbines would change the environment irreversibly."

      .

      They said concerns like Mr Mackenzie’s should be listened to, and warned there were a number of other problems posed by proposals such as these.

      Ashley Smith, spokesman for No Ring of Steel (NORoS) said:

      "People in this part of the world have grave concerns about the impact of large-scale windfarm development.

      "The impact on fishing could be devastating, and that would have serious consequences for the economy in this area.

      "But people are also concerned about the impact enormous turbines would have on day-to-day quality of life.

      "They would present an overwhelming change to the landscape, wrecking what is an unspoilt and unrivalled part of the country.

      "Wildlife in the area beyond the rivers would also be affected.

      "We’ve reached saturation point in this part of the Highlands and the area cannot take any more development.

      "These turbines will be taller than any other building in Scotland, and would change the environment irreversibly."

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