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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 May, 2003, 06:03 GMT 07:03 UK
Hydro-electric plan for Highlands
Loch Ness
The proposed plant would be located at Loch Ness

A new hydro-electric scheme which could eventually power 35,000 homes is planned for the Scottish Highlands.

Scottish and Southern Energy has written to the Scottish Executive seeking permission for the project - the largest in Scotland for 40 years.

The 85m scheme will see the construction of a dam and reservoir in Glendoe, on the eastern side of Loch Ness.

The dam will feed water to an underground hydro station on the banks of the loch near Fort Augustus.

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) said its plans were unique because the works will be almost invisible, despite the size of the project.

We are approaching this development in a responsible and sensitive way
Ian Merchant, SSE

If it gets the green light, the plant will take three years to build and create more than 400 construction jobs.

It will eventually power more than 35,000 homes.

Conservationists have been closely consulted ahead of the formal application.

The RSPB said that while there was still work to be done, it was pleased with the progress so far.

Ian Marchant, chief executive of SSE, said: "This year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board.

Keeping with tradition

"It is therefore fitting that, as the board's successor company, we should be seeking permission to build Scotland's first large-scale hydro-electric scheme for 40 years.

"SSE has a long tradition of investment in and management of renewable energy schemes in the north of Scotland and we are approaching this development in a responsible and sensitive way, in keeping with the traditions of our predecessors."

The company said the plans had been subjected to a detailed environmental assessment.

They have been in consultation with Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency to help minimise its impact on the landscape.

Reporting Scotland's Craig Anderson
"The project includes the creation of a new reservoir."

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