Highlands & Islands

Highland councillors support Lochaber hydro plan

Image caption The plan involves a dam, reservoir, underground power station and water tunnels

Highland councillors have given their backing to a proposed new £800m hydro electric scheme.

SSE has put forward details of the 600MW project for Coire Glas, near Spean Bridge, in Lochaber.

The development would be Scotland's biggest ever hydro scheme but objectors warn it could damage tourism.

Highland Council's south planning applications committee considered the proposal on Tuesday after a site visit the previous day.

Officials had recommended that the council should not raise an objection to the development.

However, they suggested that conditions be added in an effort to minimise the impact on the environment and people living near the site.

'Green batteries'

The committee gave its support to the proposals, but Scottish government will have the final say on SSE's planning application.

It would involve the construction of a dam, reservoir, underground power station and water tunnels in the hills above Loch Lochy.

Scottish Natural Heritage believe it would have a major negative impact on the local landscape and views would be significantly affected.

The pump storage hydro scheme is designed to "soak up" excess power generated by wind and wave farms, using it to pump water up to a reservoir.

That water is then released through tunnels to generate hydro electric power at times when consumers need it.

Those in favour of such schemes describe them as "green batteries", but opponents argue they use more energy than they produce.

SSE have said the construction would take five to six years and create about 150 jobs.

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