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Chairman fears Inverness Caley Thistle can't carry on as normal without approval for project for proposed battery farm

By Will Clark

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Ross Morrison
Ross Morrison

The chairman of Inverness Caledonian Thistle says he fears how the club will be able to operate in the future as it is if it doesn’t get the green light to build a battery farm.

The club’s application to build a battery energy storage facility at land it owns near Fairways Business Park is set to be decided at the South Planning Applications Committee meeting at Highland Council on Wednesday.

Club chairman Ross Morrison says if approved, the project could generate seven figures and financially safeguard the future of the football club and its operations.

However, he says if it is rejected, it could have a detrimental impact on how the club functions in the future.

He said aspects of the club which could be at risk include the Caley Thistle Academy, girls football, Inverness Caledonian Thistle Development Hub and projects it runs in the city and region with the Inverness Caledonian Thistle Community Trust.

The application has been recommended for rejection by planners who said it is not considered that the submission has adequately justified the loss of designated open space as a result of industrial development.

However, Morrison, who was speaking at the Inverness Caledonian Thistle Supporters Trust meeting on Saturday, remains confident that the project will be approved by councillors.

If it doesn’t, he says the implications for Caley Thistle would be unthinkable.

Morrison said: “It’s beyond thought what would happen.

“It will be sticky, we need to shore up the cash flow, we need to stop losing the money we are losing. We need to get this money in as it is worth seven figures.

“Things like the Caley Thistle Academy and girls football are in jeopardy.

“If we get the battery farm up and running, 20,000 tonnes of carbon will be saved.

“The battery park will give us money to do many things and also continue Caley Thistle as it is and the ICT Trust which is massive for what it does for Inverness.

“Caley Thistle is not a black hole, Caley Thistle is a company that hasn’t been working properly and we have to turn it around.

“We need to put the money in, pay off the debts and have a sustainable amount of money coming in. With that site coming, we will become sustainable and change Inverness Caledonian Thistle.”

Morrison acknowledged that the application is recommended for refusal by planners.

But he says the environmental impact of the project will outweigh the loss of green space which would be caused as a result of the project.

“There will be a loss of green space, our batteries will sit on a bit of green ground that is 1.1 hectares on a site that is 88 hectares. A total of 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide will be saved.

“With this project, we can keep Caley Thistle going and help the Highlands achieve net zero.

“Losing one hectare of the ground is the only thing that is wrong with this. We hope that the members will see the benefits of this on Wednesday.”

Last year, it was reported Inverness Caledonian Thistle lost £835,751 in the 12 month period ending May 31, 2022.

Morrison says they are confident they are turning the financial situation around at the club.

But he says the approval of the battery farm will be vital in how it is able to function in the future.

“We have just about turned the corner with Caley Thistle’s finances.

“We own the ground around us and have people who want to use it and pay for it.

“Because the way we are losing money in the Championship is impossible to sustain, that is why we need money from elsewhere. The battery farm will do that and the ground around us will do that. It will be a foundation of financial sustainability for us.”

Inverness Caledonian Thistle Supporters Trust spokesman George Moodie said they supported the club's application which they say will safeguard the club's future and operations.

"The winners out of this application will be Caley Thistle and the community.

"We encourage fans to get behind the battery park, there is a lot of positivity which came out of the meeting about it."

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