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Inquiry into proposed £625 million Loch Ness hydro scheme ends; Scottish ministers due to decide in the coming weeks

By Scott Maclennan

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The public was consulted over the hydro scheme.
The public was consulted over the hydro scheme.

A public local inquiry into a proposed £625 million hydro scheme for the banks of Loch Ness finished hearing evidence earlier this week.

Highland Council and developers Intelligent Land Investments (ILI) now face a wait to see which side Scottish ministers will come down on.

If granted permission, the Red John development could involve six years of construction work along the iconic loch.

The inquiry heard about the visual impact of the works, as well as the benefits it could bring.

James Findlay QC, for Highland Council, and Douglas Armstrong QC, for ILI, clashed as the former argued the visual impact of the hydro scheme had to be considered cumulatively with that of nearby wind farms.

Mr Armstrong, referencing earlier submissions, argued that wind farm structures were totally different to the Red John scheme.

He said that developments should be considered purely on a case-by-case basis.

However, Mr Findlay countered that argument, saying that it was clearly “reasonable and proportionate” to take into account the context of other developments as that is what the viewer would see.

The Scottish Government Reporter will now consider the evidence before arriving at their recommendation, which will be forwarded to Scottish ministers for a final decision.

That decision is not expected to be made before September 21.

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