Outlander novelist Diana Gabaldon in battle to prevent 'industrial-scale' windfarm being built where travel series is set

'Given the undoubted economic value of tourism to Scotland, it seems insane to sacrifice one of its most scenic landscapes for the sake of an electrical pittance'

Chris Green@cghgreen
Friday 01 May 2015 16:25
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In the historical time travel series Outlander, heroine Claire Randall is transported to Scotland during the bloody Jacobite uprisings of the 1740s, where her romance with a dashing Highlander is played out against the dramatic backdrop of Rannoch Moor.

But back in the 21st century, a similarly ferocious battle is raging over the future of the rugged landscape, pitting the American novelist behind the series against a Dutch company which wants to build an “industrial-scale” windfarm in the area.

Diana Gabaldon said it would be “insane” for Scotland to position the proposed 24 400ft-high wind turbines in one of its most beautiful regions and has called on the country’s official tourism body to intervene.

“One of the most gratifying things about the TV show is that we were able to film it in Scotland, and that the staggering natural beauty of Scotland is as much a character as are any of the actors,” the 63-year-old writer said.

“I’ve heard from hundreds of fans that seeing the show has convinced them that they must go to Scotland, and from hundreds more who have already come to experience it for themselves.

“Frankly, given the undoubted economic value of tourism to Scotland, it seems insane to sacrifice one of its most scenic landscapes for the sake of an electrical pittance.”

Tourism body VisitScotland has been keen to exploit the success of the series, which was watched by an audience of more than five million, hosting an Outlander film locations map on its website. It describes Rannoch Moor as “one of the last remaining wildernesses in Europe”.

The Scottish Government has also trumpeted the impact of the series on the country's economy, highlighting a 30 per cent rise in visitor figures to Doune Castle in Stirlingshire – the location for the fictional Castle Leoch – since filming began.

Almost 1,000 formal objections have been made about the Talladh a Bheithe wind farm, which is set to be constructed on wild land between Loch Rannoch and Loch Ericht.

Opponents to the scheme include Scottish Natural Heritage and the John Muir Trust, which has described it as “a knife in the heart of Scotland’s natural beauty”. A decision on the plans is set to be made in a matter of weeks by Perth and Kinross Council.

David Gibson, chief officer of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, said it was “bizarre” that VisitScotland and the Scottish Government were advertising the natural beauty of the country’s landscapes while pursuing policies “that could turn them into industrial sites”.

A VisitScotland spokesperson said: “Wind farms and other renewable energy projects are a part of the landscape in nearly every destination in the world. As with any development which could impact on the natural landscape, such projects should be sensitive to their surroundings and involve a full consultation with all interested parties.”

Talladh-a-Bheithe Wind Farm Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dutch company Eventus BV, did not respond to a request for comment yesterday. The firm has previously said its proposal was developed after an extensive consultation process resulting in a “carefully balanced project” that would “minimise views of the turbines from key areas around Loch Rannoch”.

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