Proposals for a new source of power from the hills of Lochaber appear to have cleared a major hurdle.
Alcan Aluminium UK Ltd is seeking Holyrood consent for a hydro-electric power scheme above Kinlochleven in the Mamore mountains.
Friday was the cut-off date for representations, with a Scottish Government spokesman confirming that only four had been received. Its sustainable growth spokesman said: “There have been four representations to the hydro scheme, detailing a range of opinions. We will now consider the representations before ministers come to a decision.”
The company has been producing power from around Kinlochleven for around a century. It says that, if given the go-ahead, the project at Loch Eilde Mor would produce five megawatts of electricity and reduce CO2 emissions by 10,000 tonnes a year.
The scheme will require substantial alterations to the existing Blackwater dam to enable a larger intake of water.
“This would be piped through a new pipeline to a new powerhouse below McKay’s Falls.
The company, now part of the giant multinational Rio Tinto, says there could be economic spin-offs for Kinlochleven.
“The scheme is likely to result in an increase in local employment through the use of local contractors.
“It will also help underpin the existing operations and maintain the Kinlochleven powerhouse. Some maintenance contracts are likely to provide long-term employment during the operational phase.”
The existing powerhouse currently supplies power to the company’s Lochaber smelter at Fort William and to the national grid.
It is currently collecting wind data from two anemometers on Meall an Doire Dharaich and Meall na Duibhe, near Loch Eilde Mor, for the possible development of a windfarm.
They are among measures being explored by the company which wants to increase output from the 140,000 acres it owns to help meet Scottish Government renewable energy targets.
Company executives say that, if both wind and water schemes were to come to fruition, they could supply the electricity needs of Kinlochleven and much of Fort William.
The Kinlochleven smelter, then the world’s oldest and smallest, closed in June 2000. But following a £10million investment, two new generators were installed at Kinlochleven and the power line to Fort William upgraded, enabling electricity to be transferred to the sister Lochaber smelter and the national grid.
The Press and Journal
18 February 2008
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