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Highland Council sends massive Loch Ness hydro scheme to a public local inquiry

By Scott Maclennan

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Highland Council has insisted that a massive hydro-electric scheme planned for the banks of Loch Ness must go to a public local inquiry.

Councillors objected to developer ILI’s enormous pumped-storage scheme, dubbed Red John, for a second time amid concerns about the profound impact on the iconic loch.

After the developers submitted a second series of proposals to deal with many of the issues raised during the first application, planners were obligated to look at the proposals again.

However, ILI were unable to address all the concerns raised by members and following a vote the application will now go to a public local inquiry.

The proposals sought to develop an upper reservoir with embankment 39m high, 600m wide and almost 2km long.

Water would travel between the reservoir and Loch Ness through massive tunnels with an underground turbine room but an above ground substation and there would be a significant alteration of the loch-side area.

The construction would take around six years to complete and involve a vast upsurge in traffic on narrow rural roads which the developer did much to alleviate according to committee members.

Originally described as “the worst” application ever seen by council leader Margaret Davidson, it fared little better this time.

The veteran councillor said it would be “a scar on the hillside” above Loch Ness for more than a decade and compared it negatively to other major hydro schemes.

She said: “I just feel we must be much more careful in letting this go ahead, this is why I am advocating a public local inquiry.”

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