Cairngorm planners may block Queen’s bid to build new hydro power plant at Balmoral

Archive photo of the Queen and Prince Philip at Balmoral castle, which is owned by the royal family in person and not by the British state.
Archive photo of the Queen and Prince Philip at Balmoral castle. The holiday home is located in the Cairngorm National Park and is owned by the royal family in person and not by the British state.

Plans by Queen Elizabeth for permission to create a new small-hydro power energy scheme on her estate at Balmoral have been called in by the Cairngorms National Park Authority.

Balmoral Estates wants to build a 2-MW turbine to generate power worth up to £650,000 a year from the River Muick, which runs through the property.

Aberdeenshire Council has also raised objections to the queen’s plan because of concerns over the impact that construction noise on building the scheme would have on wildlife.

A council spokesman said: “We are concerned that there may be noise emission from the proposals which could be detrimental to the amenity of neighbouring noise-sensitive receptors.

“Typically hydropower turbines can emit significant amounts of noise.

“The noise information currently provided in the environmental statement <from Balmoral> offers no measurements of the current background noise nor any site-specific predictions.”

Construction work would last two years and involve the installation of a 30ft salmon ladder to enable the fish to swim upstream.

Balmoral Estates has offered to restrict workers’ hours on the protected site to avoid disturbing otters in the early morning and late at night and said there would not be any significant impact on nearby habitats.

But the Cairngorms Park Authority has called in the application because it raises “issues of significance”.

Even if the authority rejects the queen’s planning application, this will likely be over-ruled by the Scottish Energy Minister in any subsequent appeal.

28 Feb 2018

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