Highland councillors have thrown out plans for a hydro scheme running through a butterfly reserve in Lochaber.
Renewable energy firm Vento Ludens had sought planning permission to construct a river hydro development on land near Ardechive Cottage at Achnacarry, Spean Bridge – which would have provided power to around 690 homes.
But the proposal was narrowly rejected at the south planning committee yesterday by a vote of seven to six against a recommendation of approval by officials.
Several members were concerned about an 8ft-wide track being left after construction running along the length of the pipeline running from 1.1 miles up the hill.
Councillor Andrew Baxter said: “I accept the case of climate change and the need for renewable energy, but we have to look at each project case by case.
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“There are enormous scars at other scheme along Loch Arkaig. I fear this could leave another scar on a stunning glen.”
The proposal was for the construction of a 950kW run of river hydro scheme, including intake, buried pipeline, turbine house, outfall, grid connection and access tracks at Allt Mhuic, on the north side of Loch Arkaig.
A report to councillors highlighted that the woodland, and part of the hill above Allt Mhuic is a private butterfly reserve, owned by Forest Enterprise Scotland and jointly managed with Butterfly Conservation Scotland for its butterflies, in particular the Chequered Skipper butterfly.
There were a number of objections lodged, mainly against the impact on wildland.
A number of councillors expressed concern about the impact on the landscape of the turbine house.
Despite local councillor Ben Thompson recommending approval, the vote went against the project.