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Hydro Schemes given go-ahead

2nd March 2012

Two hydropower schemes are to be built near Kingussie bringing benefits to the local community and the environment with minimal impact on the special qualities of the National Park.

The schemes were granted planning permission by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) Planning Committee meeting in Ballater on 2 March 2012.

These are:

A “high head” (50m+ hydraulic fall) 700kW hydropower scheme with two intake structures located on the Allt Mhor and the Allt Odhair and a partially underground power house.
A “low head” (5m-25m fall) 50kW hydropower scheme fed by Loch Gynack and a timber building power house.

The dam on Loch Gynack will also be completely reconstructed.

The annual electricity output from these two schemes will be enough to power 600 homes.

CNPA Planning Chairman Duncan Bryden said: “This is a really good example of where small-scale projects can be developed within the National Park to use the natural resources and help towards national targets on renewable energy production.”

Following discussions with CNPA, the applicant – Pitmain Estate – has also agreed to undertake construction works to aid a third, community scheme which was given planning permission in April 2011 but which stalled due to funding.

The Kingussie Development Company Archimedes screw will be located further down the Gynack Burn and will provide enough energy to power 15 average homes.

Duncan Bryden added: “The people of Kingussie have a history of generating power from the river and these schemes will further enhance this cultural link. The Archimedes screw will be on the same site as the original hydro scheme on the River Gynack which provided power for St Vincent’s Sanatorium.

“This is a great example of where the planning system can help bring about other projects needed in the community. In this case, the assistance in the construction of the community’s Archimedes screw will be undertaken by the applicant instead of paying other developer contributions. This will hopefully help them in their ambition for the project and in generating an income for the local community.”

As well as generating energy, the hydro schemes will help alleviate the potential of flooding in Kingussie and any damage to properties which would result.

Planning Officer Robert Grant said: “Surveys carried out at the site show the scheme should have a minimal impact on wildlife in the area.  Conditions have been attached to the permissions to ensure appropriate steps are taken to reduce the impact of the development during and after construction.”

During construction measures are being taken to reduce disturbance and construction traffic such as using a helicopter to bring in some of the materials.

The applicant is also going to use local materials where possible and the buildings will be good quality, sensitive and sympathetically finished.