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Mixed reviews for major hydro-scheme on the banks of Loch Ness

David Lee, AECOM project director, and Ross McLaughlin, Intelligent Land Investments technical adviser.
David Lee, AECOM project director, and Ross McLaughlin, Intelligent Land Investments technical adviser.

Plans for a major hydro-scheme on the banks of Loch Ness have met mixed reviews during a public consultation.

The £625m Red John Scheme – from Hamilton-based Intelligent Land Investments (ILI) Group – would involve the construction of a 230-acre embankment, rising 127 feet, stretching from Loch Duntelchaig and Loch Ness.

The development – which would take six years to construct – has the potential to provide around 300 jobs as well as 400 MW of clean energy.

In an effort to gauge feedback on the plans, developers held an open day at Dores Parish Hall providing them an opportunity to engage with the community’s concerns head on.

Members of the public speak to Catherine Anderson, right, AECOM environment impact assessor.

The event comes just three just three months after south planning councillors objected the plans over fears for public safety in the eventually of a reservoir breach.

Catherine Anderson, Environmental Project Director for consultants Aecom said: “The community have been absolutely integral to this process.

“I think there has been legacy issues with transport in the area with other projects and we’re not looking to exacerbate that but we will do whatever is necessary to implement mitigation we need to do to make sure this project is a sustainable going forward.”

To help meet concerns over the visual and transport implications, developers have outlined plans for a park and ride system for staff to help minimise the number of cars on the road as well as the potential to use the Caledonian Canal to ferry materials to the proposed site.

Local resident Mark Bessell, 55, was among the attendees who expressed concerns over the magnitude of “disruption” to be experienced by the local community.

He said: “It has the potential of being five years of disruption. On one side there is long term improvements of the road, the road coming in off the A9 is single track and the road from Dores up to the boundary road that’s just as bad – some days it’s worse -so how they are going to HGV’s with the volume is going to be nine impossible to be honest.

“The technology is good technology, it’s what you have to do for an ability to store potential electricity but there is going to be an impact on the local population.”

Public display of plans for a pump storage hydro project near Dores.

Meanwhile, Inverness fisherman Chris Leask is one of a dozen fishermen who rent a loch close to the proposed development area.

He pledged his support for the project saying: “It is going to help produce electricity and make use of the natural resources in this case water from Loch Ness being pumped up. I think it’s a good thing and of course it environmentally beneficial because it’s not using any fossil fuels.”

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