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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 December 2007, 10:59 GMT
Highlands blueprint is published
Sign on A96
The A96 corridor could be dramatically transformed
Plans setting out the detail of a 3bn development between Inverness and Nairn have been published by Highland Council.

The project, which will see a dramatic expansion along the A96 corridor over a 35-year period, includes doubling the size of Nairn and building two towns.

If approved, work on the plan would begin in 2011.

The proposals also include building 16,500 new homes and a new Inverness College campus.

The development covers all of the land eastwards from Inverness to the border with Moray and south to the B9006.

Those behind the measure said it would create 20,000 new jobs and combat a projected decline in the Highland population.

The local authority's convener, Sandy Park, said: "This document is a blueprint for the future growth of the Highlands.

"The A96 Corridor offers huge potential for the continued growth of both Inverness and the Highlands over the next 30-40 years."

Environmental impact

Councillor Drew Hendry, chairman of Highland Council's planning environment and development committee, added: "We need to be in a strong position to ensure that the conditions are right for population growth.

"We can do this by building up a stronger and more diverse economy, ensuring a good supply of housing land and making sure that the necessary level of infrastructure is in place to allow it to happen."

The proposals have attracted criticism from some local communities and community councils, most notably in Tornagrain.

Villagers are calling for the area to be left undeveloped, at least until expansion plans for Inverness and Nairn are completed.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency also raised concerns over the environmental impact of the plans.

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