Actress Mirren opposes Ardersier waste water plant plan
Actress Dame Helen Mirren is backing a campaign opposing plans for an upgraded waste water treatment plant in the Scots village where she was married.
Scottish Water has operated the plant at Ardersier for years but said improvements were needed because of new housing and to protect sealife.
Residents of the Moray Firth village oppose the expansion and want other sites to be considered for a new plant.
Mirren has issued a statement supporting their campaign.
The star of movies The Queen and RED married her husband, American film director Taylor Hackford, in a ceremony in Ardersier Parish Church in 1997.
They had been staying at nearby Castle Stuart at the time.
In her statement, she said: "It is with absolute horror that I heard about the proposed sewage plant at Ardersier.
"This is a small and authentic community, rooted in the landscape and the sea. The people of Ardersier have lived there for generations, quietly getting on with their lives, working within the environment.
"Ardersier is not one of the famed beauty spots of Scotland; if it were, there would rightly be a huge outcry against this plan.
"However, Ardersier is as important to the history and beauty of Scotland as Loch Lomond or Fort William or any of the great tourist attractions, because Ardesier is quietly where the real Scotland is."
Locals opposed to the project have concerns about smell from the plant and believe that there are more suitable sites for it.
Scottish Water said it was investing more than £11m in "a package of essential improvement projects", which includes the upgrading and enhancement of the current waste water treatment works at Ardersier.
Director of strategic customer service planning Simon Parsons said: "We are required to carry out some upgrades to protect and enhance the environment of the Moray Firth, particularly for the benefits of dolphins in the water.
"There is also expected to be significant housing and economic growth in the area served by the facility in the years ahead."
He added: "These improvements were planned thoroughly and in discussion with different agencies, prior to community engagement activity which took place before planning permission was obtained in 2011 for the treatment works upgrade.
"The economic situation has changed - and we now need to make sure the required waste water infrastructure is in place to meet the demands of new development, as well as to protect and enhance the environment."
Mr Parsons said that before going ahead with the upgrade Scottish Water was "talking to the community, listening to their views".