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Hydro scheme in Scottish nature spot wins backing

How the proposed scheme would look
How the proposed scheme would look

Plans for a hydro-electric power station in a Deeside conservation area in the west of Aberdeen have been recommended for approval by city council planners.

The energy scheme proposed for land at Culter Burn, off North Deeside Road at Peterculter, would also include the construction of a “fish pass” – which could help boost salmon and sea trout numbers.

The site lies within the River Dee Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and is a District Wildlife Site as well as being designated by the city council as a Local Nature Conservation Site (LNCS).

The plans have secured the backing of the River Dee Trust.

Culter Community Council has not objected, but has concerns relating to access to the site, a loss of trees and a lack of information on how power generated will reach the National Grid.

The power station would be constructed next to a 16ft-high dam built in the 1800s to provide water to the former Culter Paper Mill, which was established in 1751. The former mill site was developed for housing in 1983.

The city council’s head of planning, Margaret Bochel, said in a report to the planning development management committee that the scheme was considered “acceptable”.

She said: “In relation to ecology, although it is recognised that there would likely be some small-scale impact in the short term of the SAC, LNCS and protected species such as otter and freshwater pearl mussel, the long-term benefits of the proposal would allow upstream migration of fish which currently cannot pass the dam.

“The proposal also allows for an additional 73kilometres (45miles) of watercourse which provides the opportunity for colonisation of freshwater pearl habitats further upstream.

“Lastly, the proposals provide the opportunity for otters to forage further upstream.”

Members of the committee will be asked to approve the plans, from the Gordon Investment Corporation, subject to a number of conditions.

The applicant will have to provide a traffic management plan, detailed landscaping proposals including tree protection and carry out archaeological testing.

The committee meets on Thursday.

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