Man-made structures can now be seen from at least 70 per cent of Scotland, with a recent five per cent increase in the area affected by development being blamed on the spread of wind turbines.
An official report from Scottish Natural Heritage, the environment agency, found that the figure had risen from 65 per cent in 2008 to 70 per cent by 2010.
However, according to anti-wind farm campaigners, the situation may now be much worse, with one suggesting that 80 per cent of the country could soon be blighted.
The report on the “visual influence of built development”, which considers the impact of structures including roads, railways, bridges, airfields and tall buildings, singled out wind farms as the cause of the recent change.
It revealed that turbines were visible from 19.9 per cent of Scotland in 2008, with the figure jumping to 31.6 per cent the following year, and to 35.6 per cent by 2010.
Ian Jardine, chief executive of SNH, said the results were “perhaps unsurprising given the importance of the renewable energy sector in Scotland”.
David Gibson, of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, told The Daily Telegraph that the SNH figures were historical and represented the “tip of the iceberg”.
He added: “Since then we have seen an exponential rise in the number of wind farm applications approved by the Scottish Government and there doesn’t seem to be any cap or scrutiny on the number of proposals in the pipeline.”
He said other figures suggested that only one third of the turbines proposed in Scotland had been built, with the other two thirds either approved or going through the planning process.
Mr Gibson added that new government proposals that could lead to around 20 per cent of the country being protected from development as wild land, did not include any proposal to protect the periphery of National Parks and National Scenic Areas.
Campaigners are particularly concerned about the outcome of two applications for wind farms on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park – the 31-turbine Allt Duine scheme at Kincraig, and the 67-turbine Stronelairg project in the Monadhliath mountains above Loch Ness.
Both would impinge further on the views from Scotland’s dwindling wild land resource and Mr Gibson said it would be a sign that ministers were listening if the schemes were rejected.
Lind Holt, of Scotland Against Spin, added: “I think the situation will now be much worse than this report suggests and the figure could soon be up to 80 per cent.”
She also claimed it was a shocking indictment of the Scottish Government that it had not set any cap on the number of turbines that could be built in Scotland, and could not say how many had already been erected.
Ann West, 73, vice chairman of Country Guardian, which has been fighting wind farm development in the UK since 1991, said the report showed that Scotland had a “real problem”.
She added: “We are desperate to protect the country, but Scotland seems to be leading the way in being totally careless with the landscape.
“The destruction of wild and beautiful landscape is a huge problem. The countryside relies on tourism, and wind farms are putting tourists off.”
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Photo credit: Wind farms in Nether Monynut, Scotland. cowrin / Flickr.com