May 7 2010 by Johnathon Menzies, Perthshire Advertiser Friday
AMBITIOUS plans were lodged yesterday to install two hydro schemes in waterways flowing through Atholl Estates in Highland Perthshire.
If approved, turbines will be inserted into the Banvie and Loch Broom burns to harness the power of the streams.
Any electricity generated by the Loch Broom burn hydro electric project will be sold to the national grid, according to an extensive report drawn up by Cumbrian developers Inter Hydro Technology.
The plans, which have been lodged with Perth and Kinross Council, also reveal that a power house would be constructed next to both of the ‘run-of-the-river’ sites.
Atholl Estates’ Andrew Bruce Wootton told the PA yesterday: “We decided to embark on this project to assist with the national drive to meet the Scottish Government’s renewable energy targets, and to take advantage of the potential to further diversify our business.
“The amount of electricity produced varies along with the level of water passing through each of the two turbines – it’s estimated each of them has the capacity to power up to 450 homes.
“Once the water flows through the turbine it will return to the burns, the schemes don’t take any water away and only operate if the level is high enough in the first place.”
Those behind Atholl Estates own and manage some 140,000 acres of land in Highland Perthshire, stretching from Dunkeld to the county border with Inverness, and employ over 80 full-time staff.
There are 12 areas within the estate’s boundaries described as “environmentally-designated” in the report submitted alongside the planning application, which covers a 17,000-acre site.
A series of conservation surveys – complied by Atmos Consulting Ltd – have been carried out to assess the suitability of the sites, looking at the birds, mammals, fish and shellfish that use the habitat.
Mr Bruce Wootton added: “The sites have been chosen because they’re rated as relatively low when it comes to environmental sensitivity.
“The turbines are designed to minimise the impact on the environment. The surveys carried out were independent and the results will be checked by Scottish National Heritage and SEPA.”
The Scottish Government has said that 10 per cent of the country’s energy use should come from renewable sources by the end of 2010, and that the figure should rise to 40 per cent by 2020.
Plans for a third hydro scheme, on the Dowally Burn, will be submitted shortly.