ANTI-WINDFARM campaigners claim a video of a wildcat could put the brakes on a huge development close to the Cairngorm National Park.
Locals opposed to plans for the the Saddle Hill wind farm on the Angus and Perthshire border say that the footage proves incredibly rare Scottish wildcats live in the area.
Recent research suggested there may be as few as 35 wildcats left in the wild.
The footage, which shows a large cat examining the carcass of a duck, was taken by a local estate manager, who had borrowed a night vision video camera from a friend.
“We have argued before that these animals are present in the glen and this is confirmation.”
Ben Sutcliffe, 38, shot the video two weeks ago at nearby Cray House estate, which is in Glenshee in Perth and Kinross.
He said: “I was lent the camera by some friends who were local RSPB volunteers.
“Something had killed one of my ducks – I was just curious, I thought it was a raptor.
“The camera was there about five days. I kept my distance but you could see the bait hadn’t moved. It was pure fluke I didn’t just delete what was on the card.
He added: “I sent it off to a wildcat association who verified it as distinctly a wildcat. They suggested a way I could get a better video clip so I’ve asked a gamekeeper to get me a few rabbits. “
Consultation and comment for Saddle Hill wind farm closed in January. The plans were put forward by Wind Prospect Developments Ltd, on behalf of EDF Energy Renewables.
The site, three miles north west of Kilry, would include 14 turbines, of heights up to 377ft.
Scottish Natural Heritage’s comment on the application said sightings of wildcats had been reported to them but they had found no evidence of dens whilst carrying out species surveys.
However the notes added that a further pre-construction survey should look into the matter further.
A spokesman for Scottish Natural Heritage said: “We know from our own priority area scoping survey that there are wildcats in nearby Glen Isla. In this case we will continue to advise – as we do in all cases.
“We are committed to having the right developments in the right places. We continue to steer developers to the less sensitive areas and help to mitigate against negative impacts on wildlife and landscape. ”
Rory Carmichael, Saddle Hill wind farm project manager, said: “A number of environmental field surveys were carried out and the results were submitted.
“These surveys found no evidence of wildcat activity at the proposed site.
“However, we would welcome to opportunity to review further details of this recent sighting or other evidence of wildcats in the area.
“If any wildcats are found to be regularly using the site we would develop a Habitat Management Plan which would include measures that would be beneficial for wildcats.”