Plans for a new 400-MW hydro electric power station on Loch Ness are being prepared by a Scottish property developer.
The renewable energy division of Hamilton-based Intelligent Land Investments wants to build its proposed Red John pumped storage hydro power station near Dores, on the eastern side of the loch.
The company – where Michael Kelly, a former Glasgow lord provost and Celtic FC director is a board member – says that the visual impact would be “minimal” and that the station would power more than 65,000 homes and could create 300 jobs.
A public exhibition of the plans is due to be held next week on Dores parish hall.
ILI has already submitted preliminary ‘scoping’ inquiries to Highlands Council and the Scot-Govt to resolve potential obstacles to the plan.
One such obstacle – which is still to be resolved – is the location of the ‘head pond’ or upper reservoir for the scheme. ILI are working on two possible sites – one of which is likely to be resisted by Historic Environment Scotland as it would encroach on the site of the remains of a historic Iron Age fort.
In its reply to the ILI scoping inquiry, Historic Environment Scotland said: “The proposals to combine the two smaller lochs of Loch na Curra and Lochan an Eoin Ruadha into one larger headpond for the scheme would dramatically alter the topography and setting of the fort.”
Highlands Council’s reply was more positive.
Council planner Elaine Watt said: “From the council’s point of view, the biggest challenge <with the Red John hydro power plan> will be the visual impact, not just from the immediate vicinity where it will be vital to make sure the new loch sits well, and looks as natural as possible, within the pattern of waterbodies in that area, but also from further afield, from across Loch Ness and the hills above it and also the A82 trunk road as a key tourist route.
“This will be a complex and challenging proposal. While the potential output would make a sizable contribution to energy targets, Scottish Government policy, advice and guidance is clear that a balance must be struck between meeting our energy challenge and safeguarding our environment.
A spokesman for ILI said the company hopes to make a formal S.36 planning application to the Scot-Govt by the end of this year.
22 Jun 2018