ABERDEEN councillors have unanimously approved plans for a hydro-electric power scheme and fish pass in a Deeside conservation area, which could open up another 45 miles of watercourses on the River Dee to migrating salmon.
The new scheme on the Culter Burn, at the eastern end of Peterculter, is also expected to open up the possibility for colonisation by rare freshwater pearl mussels further upstream.
The proposed development by the Gordon Investment Corporation is sited within the River Dee Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and is also designated as a District Wildlife Site.
Dr Margaret Bochel, the council’s head of planning and sustainable development, told a meeting of the council’s Planning Development Management Committee that the scheme would be constructed next to a 16 ft dam and weir built in the 1800s to provide water for the former Culter Paper Mill.
She said: “The site is of national conservation value. The proposed development would result in the loss of a small area of habitat from the south western bank of the Culter Burn immediately downstream of the dam.
“However, this will allow a new turbine hydropower plant to be developed within this area, which will also create a fish pass on the inside face of the hydro channel on the existing Culter Dam weir.
“Currently, the dam restricts the movement of fish upstream. The migratory fish are one of the species that afford the River Dee its SAC status and the presence of a fish pass on the dam would enhance the possibility of extending the SAC into the Culter Burn catchment with enhanced habitat for the other SAC designate species of otter and freshwater pearl mussel.”
1000 homes approved
At the meeting councillors also approved plans for a massive development of more than 1000 homes at Loirston on the outskirts of Aberdeen. The eight hectare development, to the west of the existing residential settlement of Cove Bay, includes the proposed site for a new stadium for Aberdeen football club.
An agreement on the new stadium development has still to be reached between the club and the council which owns the land. But Dons’ chairman Stewart Milne revealed at the club’s recent AGM that talks have re-opened with the city council about a move away from Pittodrie.
Developers Hermiston Securities plan to build a total of 1,067 new homes at the site, together with a primary school and commercial, leisure and office developments.
The local Nigg Community Council had objected to the massive development, raising concerns about the impact of the housing scheme on wildlife in the area and the possible loss of an existing right of way.