A whisky giant’s plans to create a new tasting lodge and bothy experience in the Moray countryside have been approved.
The Cairngorms National Park’s planning committee yesterday backed the building of the attraction near the Glenlivet distillery by Chivas Brothers.
Its members did so despite concerns about the impact on the region’s Dark Sky Park and the potential for light pollution.
The previous application was withdrawn in October last year after fears that the development on the site of the now demolished original Glenlivet Distillery could be to its detriment.
Nights in Tomintoul and Glenlivet are amongst the darkest in the UK, meaning the deepest depths of the galaxy shine far brighter than in towns and cities.
And in 2018 the villages were recognised by the Arizona-based International Dark Sky Association for the stunning views.
There was a fear the lodge proposed by Chivas Brothers could bring unwanted light pollution to the area, which is being marketed to winter tourists, but the new proposal relocated it to a more sheltered spot nearby.
The bothy will hold four tours per day with a maximum of 10 people and overnight use ruled out.
Planning officer Emma Bryce said: “Our own CNPA landscape adviser is now satisfied the proposed location of the bothy is less prominent in terms of key viewpoints than was previously proposed.
“The design is good and there has been a significant attempt made to minimise the light levels so that there is no adverse effect on the special landscape quality of the dark skies.”
Planning committee convener Eleanor Mackintosh added: “I had grave concerns about this whisky bothy when I first saw the plans last year, however, I can see that the applicants have gone to great lengths to relocate the bothy and reduce lighting levels to allay fears about the impact on the Dark Sky Park.
“I do welcome this project, which is supported by our policies in terms of economic growth within the tourism and leisure sector.”
Councillor Derek Ross continued to raise concerns about the bothy lowering the “potential” tourist benefits of the Dark Sky Park status.
The committee agreed to grant planning permission on the condition there be no adverse impact on water quality or quantity from the new development.