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Caley Thistle calls on fan power to lobby Highland Council and deliver crucial project

By Scott Maclennan

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Chairman Ross Morrison (left) and Chief Executive Officer Scot Gardiner pictured at the ICT Supporters Open Meeting. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Chairman Ross Morrison (left) and Chief Executive Officer Scot Gardiner pictured at the ICT Supporters Open Meeting. Picture: Callum Mackay.

INVERNESS Caledonian Thistle’s chairman has called on fans to lobby Highland Council before a crunch meeting that could decide the fate of the club and its trust well into the future.

Ross Morrison has written to “thousands” of fans asking them to get behind the club’s bid to establish a £40 million Battery Electrical Storage system next to Fairways Business Park in Inverness.

Developed in conjunction with Caley Thistle’s shirt sponsor Intelligent Land Investments (ILI) council officials are recommending refusing planning permission for the scheme.

That “devastating news” sparked dire warnings about the city football club’s future amid hints of what could come for the Inverness championship side, with Mr Morrison admitting that “without it I think we will struggle” in reference to keeping a full-time squad.

Earlier a club statement slammed the “negative” planning recommendation that if followed, it said, would leave Inverness Caledonian Thistle (ICT) “on the cusp of securing our long term financial stability” while also endangering its support for other causes through the trust.

It is no secret that ICT has struggled with its finances for years and it believes the battery storage scheme would provide regular, valuable off-field revenues, sparking an unprecedented efforts to drum up support for the application.

Council planning officers, however, believes the move should be blocked over concerns about noise, loss of open space, drainage, and biodiversity impact – issues Mr Morrison insists can be overcome.

The decision on the planning application is due to be made by councillors at the south planning committee on Wednesday.

ICT Chairman Ross Morrison. Picture: Callum Mackay.
ICT Chairman Ross Morrison. Picture: Callum Mackay.

In his letter to fans urging them to have their say Mr Morrison said: “The development has been helped massively by our main sponsor ILI with two huge goals in mind.

“Firstly to take a huge step forward in helping Scotland, and the Highlands in particular, to getting to Net Zero CO2 emissions.

“Secondly this development can be hugely beneficial to our club with the funds allowing us a firm, stable financial foundation for years to come.

“It is imperative that Scotland gets to a net zero CO2 footing. Highland Council along with the Scottish Government declared a Climate Emergency in 2019!

“It is also imperative that ICTFC derive funding from outwith football as we simply don’t make enough in the Championship to keep a full time squad and everything that goes with it.

“We don’t have a rich owner, there is only all of us together, so we need help. This development can most certainly help, but last week the planning department of Highland Council recommended that our application should be refused when it comes before the council planning committee this Wednesday. This was devastating news.

“We need to persuade, by lobbying the local councillors, that this recommendation should be overturned and the application should be approved at the meeting which is taking place this Wednesday, and to that end I am asking all of you, if you agree with what I have said, to contact your local councillor with your support for the application and the club and also with the knowledge that it contributes massively to get to the Net Zero goal.”

Underlining how serious the situation is, he concluded: “The Highlands needs this. Scotland needs this and everyone associated with ICTFC needs this.

“If you can do anything to help us then please do. Now is the time when we need you the most.”

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