Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Caley Thistle to appeal Highland Council’s rejection of its plans for a battery storage scheme

The club will appeal the decision that has stopped them from landing a £3.4m windfall.

Caley Thistle were banking on the battery storage plant to help the club's finances.
Caley Thistle were banking on the battery storage plant to help the club's finances.

A controversial battery storage farm has been refused permission after Highland councillors reversed a decision to give the scheme the go-ahead.

The outcome is a major setback for Caley Thistle, which was set to receive millions of pounds from the £40m project.

The club says it is disappointed and angry by the decision and will appeal to the Scottish Government.

Chief executive Scot Gardiner said afterwards: “This is absolutely far from over.”

The proposal would have seen containers storing up to 50MW of electricity sited at Fairways Business Park in Inverness.

Initially put forward by Inverness Caledonian Thistle (ICT) shirt sponsors Intelligent Land Investments (ILI), the project is wholly owned by the football club.

Councillors voted 30-23 to turn down the plans.

Project would result in loss of green space

Highland Council’s south planning applications committee voted 3-2 last month to grant permission against officials’ recommendations.

However, that decision was sent to the full council for reconsideration after 30 councillors later signed a notice of amendment.

Today, planning manager David Mudie outlined the application to councillors, advising them that the proposal was in line with national policy to support renewable energy projects.

It would help towards net zero targets and deliver some socio-economic benefits.

But he said it would result in a loss of green and amenity space.

The facility was earmarked for a site at the Fairways Business Park

Lochaber councillor Thomas MacLennan said he had never experienced the “lobbying” and “intimidation” like he had on this application.

He referenced a fire at a battery storage scheme in Liverpool as an example of a worst-case scenario.

Councillor MacLennan added: “I can see why so many people are concerned about this from the safety point-of-view.

“But I am delighted we can look everybody in the face and say we’ve given it proper scrutiny here.”

‘Sending out the wrong message’

Cromarty Firth councillor Maxine Smith lodged an amendment to support Caley Thistle’s plans, saying rejecting it “would send out the wrong message”.

She said the development would cover just 2% of the open space which would be outweighed by 80 jobs and the contribution towards net zero targets.

But councillor Ken Gowans disagreed, saying it would result in the “industrialisation” of a popular area.

He echoed the views of many members.

“Battery storage is a good idea but this is just the wrong place,” councillor Gowans said.

“We should not be putting battery storage in the heart of our communities.”

Councillor Patrick Logue said a balance needed to be struck

He said: “It always seems to be the wrong place.

£At some point we need to address the climate crisis.

Three councillors abstained from the vote and six were not able to vote because of a declared interest.

Scot Gardiner, ICT chief executive at the council meeting. Image Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

After the meeting, Mr Gardiner said: “We’re not surprised but extremely disappointed.

“There are probably no words to say how disappointed we are and no words to say how angry we are.

“We now have a real challenge on our hands in relation to what we do with the football club to make sure this is not a catastrophic blow.”

ICT has said it would receive a £3.4m lump sum from selling the battery company to an undisclosed buyer.

This would be used to help secure Caley Thistle’s future and support community programmes.

Mr Gardiner said losing the money is a huge setback.

“It would be a huge blow for any club below the top three,” he said. “But that’s what happened and we have to address that.

“We will appeal to the Scottish Government.”

‘Classic argument of a Nimby’

Mr Gardiner added: “The arguments by some of the naysayers was the classic argument of a Nimby – I’m all for this but just not here.

“If you’re an investor in Inverness, especially in relation to renewable energy, it would seem Highland Council talks the talk but doesn’t actually walk the walk.”

Mr Gardiner said it was significant that so many people were not allowed to vote on the plans.

Highland Council meeting to discuss planned battery storage scheme Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

The ICT Supporters Trust said it is “very concerned” about the implications of the council’s decision.

It is seeking early discussion with the ICT board to discuss the future of the club.

Its statement read: “We will work with the club in any way we can to assist it with any difficulties it faces due to the decision.”

It also thanked supporters for backing the application.

“The greater the membership of the Supporters Trust, the greater the influence it can have on the club at a time when it’s clear that the coming weeks and months are going to be amongst the most crucial in the club’s history.”

Community councils opposed the project

Last week, four community councils revealed they had joined forces to try to block the plans.

Slackbuie, Inshes and Milton of Leys, Lochardil and Drummond, and Holm Community Councils, which cover more than 13,700 residents, urged councillors to vote against the proposed development.

Its document– entitled Keep Fairways Green –  was sent to councillors before the meeting.

Aftewards they said they were pleased the issue received the level of scrutiny and debate it warranted.

They were also encouraged a majority of councillors followed the recommendation of planners and local development plan and listened to community concerns.

“We are not against battery energy storage, but it does not belong on protected green space or in the heart of any community.”