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Scottish council gives green light for £800m hydro scheme

02 November 2012

Highland councillors gave their support in late October to a proposed new £800 million hydroelectric scheme on the banks of Loch Lochy in northern Scotland. The 600MW pumped storage project at Coire Glas, near Invergarry, is being proposed by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE). The development must now be approved by Scottish ministers.

The Coire Glas scheme would be similar to the existing pumped storage scheme at Cruachan
The Coire Glas scheme would be similar to the existing pumped storage scheme at Cruachan

The project would involve the construction of a dam, reservoir, underground power station and water tunnels in the hills above Loch Lochy and a pump storage hydro scheme designed to “soak up” excess power generated by wind and wave farms, using it to pump water up to a reservoir.

Objections to the development have been fuelled by the possible impact on tourism and the general disturbance such a vast project would entail.

Colin Nicol, SSE’s Director of Onshore Renewables, said: “The report presented to the committee recognises that the scheme would be of overall benefit to the Highlands. We believe it would also make a valuable contribution to meeting our future energy needs by allowing surplus energy to be stored and made available at times of high demand.”

SSE has said if all approvals are received, a final decision to proceed with the project will be taken by the company in 2014. Construction would take five to six years and create about 150 jobs.

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