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Hydro scheme plan on show near Loch Ness

By Calum MacLeod

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Plans were on display.
Plans were on display.

DETAILED plans of a major hydro project above Loch Ness were unveiled to local residents last week, as developers gave assurances that any disruption would be kept to a minimum.

The public information day at Dores Hall gave developer Intelligent Land Investments (ILI) a chance to answer questions about its bid to construct a £625 million hydro pump storage scheme in the hills above the village.

Staff from environmental consultant Aecom were also on hand.

If approved, a 2650m tunnel will draw water from Loch Ness to a five million cubic metre capacity reservoir which will be created behind a 39m high dam. This can then be released to generate electricity at peak times or when there is a lull in wind-generated power.

The project, which would take five years to complete, has the potential to provide 400MW of clean energy.

However, despite a recommendation for approval, ILI’s plans were rejected by a Highland Council planning committee three months ago over traffic and safety concerns,with one councillor, Andrew Jarvie, going as far as to call it “without question the worst planning application I have dealt with”.

ILI technical adviser Ross McLaughlin said some of the comments made by the committee were a little unfair, and hoped the additional information would allay some fears, especially in regard to the construction phase.

“Transport has been the key concern since day one,” he said.

“Everything will be landscaped to blend in. I don’t think there is so much concern locally about the project once it is constructed. It’s the construction phase and potential disruption that people are worried about.”

With an estimated 300 workers employed in construction, ILI also proposes a park and ride scheme to drastically cut the number of staff cars going to the site.

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