The first stage of controversial plans to create a new Scottish town has been approved by Highland Council.
There are plans for new housing between Nairn and Inverness
The proposal to create a settlement for about 10,000 people between Inverness and Nairn at Tornagrain forms part of the council's A96 corridor masterplan.
The planning and development committee agreed to move on to the second stage of the plan, which will include a £25,000 feasibility study.
However, the authority has already received a number of objections.
One of the those opposed to the plan is Inverness economist Tony Mackay who said the public had not been properly consulted.
He claims many people would rather see an extension of existing settlements rather than the building of a new one.
Mr Mackay said: "I think most people are of the opinion that if there is going to be an expansion then it should be in Inverness or Nairn.
"The consultants that the council used said they had extensive consultation with local people who said they wanted the new town, but it is clear that is not the case.
"In fact I would say that 99% of people would rather see a local settlement expanded than a new one built."
In the report presented to the committee, the council's head of planning and development, Mike Greaves, said: "It was never a responsibility of the consultants to engage in open-ended consultation with statutory and community interests - that is properly a matter for the council itself."
A Highland Council spokeswoman added that plans were still at an extremely early stage and that public consultation would take place before a final decision was made.