A new sand and gravel quarry will be built near Nairn despite concerns that the development could upset breeding capercaillies and common crossbills nearby.
Highland councillors yesterday approved the proposal by Breedon Northern Ltd to create the quarry at Upper Remore, six miles east of Nairn.
Breedon will have to implement mitigation measures for the birds agreed with Scottish Natural Heritage as they proceed with the quarry, as environmentalists have raised fears about the impact of the work on birds at the Lethen Forest Special Protection Area about a mile away.
The quarry will operate for 20 years, with extraction phased from west to east over an area of 58 acres.
Extracting to a depth of 12ft will enable 1.2 million tonnes of sand and gravel to be extracted in its lifetime.
The products will be cleaned and screened and sold to the construction industry in Nairn and the surrounding area.
The work will take place in four phases, with ongoing reinstatement to woodland in the commercial forestry area.
Breedon says around 28 HGVs will visit the quarry each day to take the material out, accessing the site from the A939 Nairn to Grantown road.
Councillors said they were concerned about damage to the road from the extra traffic, and asked planners to discuss the possibility of ongoing repair with the developer.
The firm also requested a speed limit of 50mph in the Househill area, rather than the 40mph requested by the council’s transport planning team.
Elected members agreed that the higher limit was more likely to be adhered to on the long, straight stretch of road, completed with signage provided by Breedon to warn of HGVs turning.