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Plans for pumped storage hydro scheme at Loch Ness revealed by energy company Statera Energy

By Val Sweeney

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The proposed pumped storage hydro scheme would use Loch Ness and Loch Kemp.
The proposed pumped storage hydro scheme would use Loch Ness and Loch Kemp.

Plans have been unveiled for a new pumped storage hydro scheme on the south side of Loch Ness, which would inject £80 million into the local economy and create hundreds of jobs during construction.

The developers say the proposed green energy project near Whitebridge will help to significantly lower carbon emissions and tackle climate change.

It comes on the heels of the £550 million Red John pumped storage hydro scheme near Dores which was given the go-ahead by the Scottish Government in June, despite strong objections from campaigners and Highland Council worried about the impact on the world-famous loch.

But the developers behind the latest proposal – Loch Kemp Storage – say their scheme will be relatively unobtrusive as it uses existing natural features in the landscape and traffic movements to the site will be minimal.

They hope there will be less opposition as more people understand the importance of the role of pumped hydro in decarbonising the grid and moving towards net zero.

The 300MW scheme is being put forward by UK-based Statera Energy which is holding a series of public exhibitions starting later this month.

Andrew Troup, of Statera Energy, said the project will use Loch Kemp on the Dell Estate as an upper reservoir and Loch Ness as the lower reservoir which has several benefits.

“This makes the project less visible overall,” he said.

“It’s a good site for a pumped storage hydro scheme, which is much needed to stabilise the grid and make energy supplies more secure.”

The project will involve raising the water level of Loch Kemp, and could produce electricity for up to 400,000 homes and save up to 500,000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year.

Statera Energy says the proposed scheme will inject £20 million into the local economy each year for up to four years, creating up to 300 jobs during construction, while materials would be bought locally where possible.

There would be six to eight permanent jobs in operations.

The company is also in talks with Scottish Canals about the future management of water levels in Loch Ness as the scheme and others could help tackle climate change more effectively.

It says the scheme would curtail its operations under extreme circumstances when water levels might be affected in the loch and priority would always be given to the existing Foyers pumped hydro scheme.

Mr Troup continued: “We would urge people to come along and find out more.

“This is the first exhibition to allow us to outline the broad plan, the consultation process and what we plan to consider in our environmental impact assessment.

“We will then hold a second exhibition incorporating feedback, before making our application at the end of 2022.”

It anticipates starting work within 18 months of permission being granted.

Catherine Topley, chief executive of Scottish Canals, said: “As the Caledonian Canal approaches its 200th anniversary in 2022, we are pleased to have been invited to explore the potential of diversifying and enhancing our assets to support the challenges faced by today’s society.

“As public assets, we continue to explore a range of opportunities to build upon our existing legacy for future generations.”

Public exhibitions will take place from 12.30pm-7.30pm at:

Glenmoriston Millennium Hall, Invermoriston – November 30.

Fort Augustus Village Hall – December 1.

The Wildside Centre, Whitebridge – December 2.

The Red John scheme, being developed by the ILI Group, is set to bring up to 700 direct and indirect jobs and save 45 million tonnes of carbon emissions over its lifetime.

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