Argyll and Bute Council is objecting to a £500million proposal for a second power station at Cruachan Dam, Loch Awe.
This will only be until conditions protecting the local housing market and minimizing traffic disruption are met.
The last-minute recommendation to the council’s planning committee was made by officers as a result of legal advice.
An objection will stand until developer Drax can show how it will protect the local housing market during the project – which will see hundreds of construction workers based in the area.
Drax will also have to explain how traffic disruption will be kept to a minimum.
Originally planners encouraged members not to object to the biggest Scottish energy infrastructure project in 40 years, subject to a list of conditions.
However, the officers decided to reword their recommendation, instead advising the council to object, until various conditions are met.
Millions of tonnes of rock to be excavated from mountain
The nationally significant development will see an estimated 2.3 million tonnes of rock removed from the famous “Hollow Mountain”.
Of this, 600,000 tonnes will be used to form a new quayside by the loch, which will store rock and house infrastructure.
Conditions the council and other consultees have proposed include measures which will mitigate the impact of construction during the major project.
These include traffic, environmental impacts and the pressure on the local housing market due to accommodation required by workers.
During the six year hydro power project, a total of 357 jobs will be supported. At peak construction time there will be around 300 workers on the site.
Kieron Green, chairman of the planning committee, said: “We are recommended to object, but we all are aware of the context of the objection.
“I move that we object, until the conditions recommended by the planners and other consultees are met.”
Councillors agreed with him unanimously.
What will the project consist of?
A huge new cavern in the mountain containing turbines and generators will be large enough to fit Big Ben on its side.
There will be an upper control works adjacent to the reservoir, a tunnel network and underground waterway system.
The existing substation will be extended and a new lower control works will be built.
A quayside will be constructed on the shore of Loch Awe and there will be above ground administration and storage buildings.
All of this work will allow Drax to double the energy generated at Cruachan.
There will be no changes to the existing dam, which is a listed building. Much of the infrastructure will be below ground.
Permission from the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit is required for the expansion. The council is among the statutory consultees.
David Moore, planning officer, said that the Scottish Government and the council recognize the need to tackle climate change.
He said both bodies have extremely supportive policy for the Cruachan proposal.
Mr Moore said: “We will be pushing very hard to make sure there is minimal impact on the free flow of traffic on the A85 during construction. It is in everyone’s interest that we minimize that.”
He also called for a housing strategy, where the developers will explain how they will ensure no harm will come to the local housing market.
Conditions asking for a construction traffic management plan and a traffic impact assessment will help protect the road network.