The first step in a planned multi-million pound expansion of a north manufacturing plant was approved by councillors yesterday.
Norbord Europe were given permission to carry out preparatory works on their Dalcross plant between Inverness and Nairn.
The scheme includes earthworks, retaining walls, foundations, the creation and upgrade of internal roads, drainage works and landscaping.
Councillors on the South Planning Applications Committee were told that the plans are the first step in an upgrade of the 25-year-old plant, which makes oriented strand board.
Highland Council planning case officer David Mudie told the committee that full plans for a new building at the plant are due to be lodged “in the next few weeks”.
Norbord have said that the plans could support more than 200 new jobs within the plant and in the forestry and transport industry.
Highland MP Danny Alexander has welcomed the committee’s decision to support the plans.
He said: “This decision is an important step forward. The proposed investment will not only secure local jobs but has the potential to create 250 new jobs delivering a further boost to the Highland economy.
“There is still some work to be done, but once construction is underway the project will bring more employment and growth to the Highlands. We are already have one of the fastest growing economies in the UK.
“I very much welcome the council’s approval for this project and look forward to seeing the new plant up and running, deepening further Norbord’s ties to the Highlands.”
Councillor John Ford, Culloden and Ardersier gave his support to the proposals as well.
He said: “The site has been a long established facility within my ward and I have heard very few complaints about the site.
“The extension is very worthwhile and the plant has my full support.”
Last week, Norbord’s managing director Karl Morris said that planned investment in Inverness-shire was in the “high £10millions”, adding that the new facility would double the company’s capacity.