Highlands & Islands

Loch Ness hydro scheme developer 'addressing' concerns

An illustration of the pumped storage scheme Image copyright ILI
Image caption An illustration of the planned pumped storage scheme

A firm behind plans for a £625m hydro power scheme on the shores of Loch Ness has sought to allay concerns about the project's visual impact.

Hamilton-based ILI Group has proposed constructing its 450MW Red John pumped storage hydro scheme near Dores, south of Inverness.

Highland Council had concerns about its potential visual impact and also traffic during its construction.

ILI Group said it had supplied additional information to the council.

Councillors are expected to consider this new detail at a future meeting.

Due to the size of this project, Scottish ministers will have the final say on the planning application.

ILI Group's Mark Wilson said the company had been engaging with the local authority and community councils to address concerns on transport and visual impact.

He said: "We have now prepared a detailed response to these questions and these will be on display at a public open day.

"It's my hope this additional information along with the previous application can allay any concerns the community may have and explain the many benefits for the local economy, the environment and Scotland as a whole."

ILI Group said up to 390 people could be involved in the construction of the project and as many as 10 permanent jobs could be created once it was operational.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The proposed scheme would draw water from Loch Ness

Pump storage hydro schemes "soak up" excess power generated by wind farms, using it to pump water up to a reservoir.

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

ILI Group's project would involve pumping water from Loch Ness up to a new "pond".

The developers said the pond would be landscaped to blend it in with the nearby natural lochs Duntelchaig, Ashie and Loch na Curra and also Lochan an Eoin Ruadha, from where the development gets the Red John name.

A 100m (328ft) underground "power cavern" and 2,650m-long (8,694ft) pipe would also need to be built for the scheme.

ILI Group is holding an open day for the local community on 4 November at Dores Parish Hall.

The eastern shore of Loch Ness already has a hydro power station.

Operated by SSE, Foyers is a combined pumped storage and conventional hydro electric scheme.

Electricity has been generated in the area since 1896 when power was needed to supply an aluminium smelter, which was shut down in 1971.

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