New battle at Glencoe over hydro plans

© GlencoeThe ridge of Buachaille Etive Beag.
The ridge of Buachaille Etive Beag.

A modern-day battle is brewing in Glencoe over plans for a river hydro scheme in the Highland village – 327 years after the infamous massacre involving two Highland clans.

Objectors have been left “appalled” over the proposal for the development near to a site of massive historical interest.

They also claim it will impact on wildlife and tourism.

The National Trust for Scotland last night said it was “scrutinising” the application, while Scottish Natural Heritage said it had no objections.

More than 38 MacDonalds of Glencoe were murdered by Government troops led by Robert Campbell of Glenlyon.

The slaying followed a Jacobite uprising in the Highlands with many clans defying orders to pledge support to King William II.

Murders were carried out across the glen at MacDonald settlements after the clan chief failed to meet a deadline to state his allegiance to the King.

Energy firm Glen Hydro, part of vento ludens Ltd, has lodged plans to construct a river hydro scheme, including intake, buried pipeline, turbine house, outfall, grid connection and access tracks.

John Muir Trust lodged objections to three proposed hydro schemes in protected Glen Etive

The plans have met with fierce opposition from local residents, particularly as the turbine location sits just 200 yards from the ruins of Inveriggin House, one of the first locations attacked in the massacre, killing around nine MacDonalds at that site alone.

Iain Thornber, the deputy Lord Lieutenant, said: “No archaeological or walk-over survey appears to have been undertaken where ground disturbance will take place.

“For a glen known across the world for the infamous and high profile historic massacre – part of which occurred within the boundary of the proposed development area, I find it both astonishing and appalling that the applicant [and] the developer imagined this to be unnecessary.

“For this reason alone the application should be rejected or referred to the Scottish Government and determined by way of a public enquiry.”

He claimed it would also lead to a loss of and disturbance to wildlife, including nationally rare wildcats, otters and pine martens.

Paulette Weir, who lives nearby at River Coe Lodge, said: “I think it is very important historically that the developers need to respect the area. It will also impact tourism and wildlife.”

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Diarmid Hearns, head of policy at the National Trust for Scotland, said: “Since the 1930s, the National Trust for Scotland has campaigned for the balanced development of Glencoe, conserving its important historic character and natural beauty, while supporting access and appreciation of this important glen.

“We will be scrutinising the application, and its potential implications for our national heritage, and will respond accordingly to Highland Council.”

A Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) spokeswoman said: “The proposed development lies within the Ben Nevis and Glencoe National Scenic Area (NSA). However we are satisfied that the application as submitted will not have an adverse impact on the NSA and does not raise any issues in relation to our remit.”

Nick Forrest, senior project developer for vento ludens, said: “The location of the ruin at Inveriggan was a significant consideration in selecting the turbine house site, 150m away on the opposite side of the Inveriggan Burn.

“A house stood very close to the turbine house site until the mid-1970s, and the turbine house will be slightly further from the public footpath.

“The turbine house will not change the current setting of the Inveriggan ruin.

“While our hydro sites are designed as sensitively as the site allows, and the construction area is restored as closely as possible to its original state, it is understandable that some individuals will have concerns about the overall impacts.”