Plans for a major hydro scheme on the banks of Loch Ness have met mixed reviews during a public consultation.
The £625m Red John Scheme – from Hamilton-based Intelligent Land Investments (ILI) Group – would involve the construction of a 230-acre embankment, rising 127 feet, running between Loch Duntelchaig and Loch Ness.
The development has the potential to provide around 300 jobs as well as 400 MW of clean energy.
In an effort to gauge feedback on the plans, developers held an open day at Dores Parish Hall providing an opportunity to engage with the community’s concerns head on.
The event comes just three months after south planning councillors objected to the plans over fears for public safety in the eventually of a reservoir breach.
Catherine Anderson, environmental project director for consultants Aecom, said: “The community have been absolutely integral to this process.
“I think there have been legacy issues with transport in the area with other projects and we’re not looking to exacerbate that but we will do whatever is necessary to implement mitigation we need to do to make sure this project is sustainable going forward.”
To help meet concerns over the visual and transport implications, developers have outlined plans for a park and ride system for staff to help minimise the number of cars on the road as well as the potential to use the Caledonian Canal to ferry materials to the site.
Local resident Mark Bessell, 55, who attended the event, was among those who expressed concerns over the magnitude of “disruption” to be experienced.
He said: “It has the potential of being five years of disruption. On one side there are long-term improvements of the road, the road coming in off the A9 is single track and the road from Dores up to the boundary road that’s just as bad – some days it’s worse – so it is going to be nigh on impossible to be honest to get HGVs with the volume there is.
“The technology is good technology, but there is going to be an impact on the local population.”
Meanwhile, Inverness fisherman Chris Leask is one of a dozen fishermen who rent a loch close to the proposed area.
He pledged his support for the project, saying: “It is going to help produce electricity and make use of the natural resources, in this case water from Loch Ness being pumped up.”