Balmoral hydro scheme faces planning hurdle

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Balmoral

Plans to build a hydroelectric scheme on the Queen's Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire have sparked objections over its impact on local wildlife.

Balmoral Estates proposes installing a 2MW hydroelectric scheme on the River Muick, several miles from Ballater.

It said there would not be any significant impact on nearby habitats.

But the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) has now called in the application, which it said raised "issues of significance".

All planning applications in the national park area are made to the relevant local authority.

However, the park authority can call in and rule on bigger and most sensitive applications.

Noise concerns

The scheme comprises the construction of a buried pipeline, a semi-buried powerhouse, and a pipe and channel returning water to the river.

Red squirrels, otters, badgers, water voles and pine martens are among the wildlife living in the area.

Aberdeenshire Council objected to the proposal, citing noise concerns.

Team manager Louise Cunningham wrote: "I am 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."

She added: "The noise information currently provided in the environmental statement offers no measurements of the current background noise nor any site-specific predictions."

In its environmental statement in support of its application, Balmoral Estates said that significant noise was not expected during either the construction or operational periods of the development.

Balmoral Estates said that assuming mitigation and good practice measures were adopted "no significant residual impacts on terrestrial habitats have been predicted as a result of the proposed scheme".

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