RSPB Scotland has warned that the proposed Strathy South wind farm would put threatened birds and habitat at risk if it were given the green light.
The public local inquiry to decide the future of the development gets under way on Monday and despite most of the community being in support, the nature conservation charity will speak out against the plan.
SSE’s proposed 39-turbine wind farm is in the midst of land variously designated as a Special Protection Area, Special Area of Conservation and Ramsar site.
At the inquiry, RSPBS will warn Scotland risks losing some of its most important wildlife, including red-throated divers, hen harriers, greenshank and the rare wood sandpiper, and damaging an area being considered as a potential UNESCO world heritage site if the scheme is given planning consent.
RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Highland Council have objected to the development.
Head of planning and development at RSPBS Aedán Smith, said: “The area around Strathy South is one of the best places in Europe for wildlife, teeming with incredibly rare birds and internationally important habitat.
“It is absolutely vital we continue to increase renewable energy generation in Scotland to help combat the threat of climate change to people and wildlife. Wind farms can and should also contribute to economic benefits to communities locally and further afield.
“However, the site at Strathy South is almost the last place we should be building a wind farm. There are many less sensitive sites in the area and across Scotland where wind farms can be built.”