Anger as plans to build hydro power plants in ‘iconic’ Scottish glen approved

Seven hydro power plants are set to be built on a stunning Scottish glen where Braveheart and James Bond’s Skyfall were filmed - despite hundreds of objections.

Glencoe. Picture: SWNS.
Glencoe. Picture: SWNS.

Glen Etive has seen an influx of visitors after it featured in the iconic Bond scene where Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench admire the view during a journey in his Aston Martin.

But energy consultancy firm Dickins Hydro Resources applied to build seven water-powered electricity plants in the area in June last year.

And despite more than 650 objections from mountaineers, environmentalists and locals, Highland Council gave all seven projects the go ahead during a planning meeting yesterday (Weds).

Speaking after the meeting, CEO of Mountaineering Scotland Stuart Younie, slammed the decision.

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He said: “It’s a sad day and we are bitterly disappointed at such a decision for this beautiful and iconic glen.

“Highland Council has failed in its stewardship of this wild and scenic area by allowing built development to spill up from the glen floor and into the open hillside.

“The erosion of the wild qualities of the land and the picking away at the edges of wild areas is a major problem for our internationally important landscapes, and Highland Council and the current planning system have let us down badly.”

Glen Etive, near Glen Coe, is classed as a National Scenic Area which means it officially has exceptional scenery.

Three of the seven hydro schemes - at Allt Ceitlein, Allt Chaorainn, and Allt Mheuran - are in a part of the glen designated as a Wild Land Area.

These are areas which are recognised as having semi-natural landscapes with minimal signs of human influence, which are considered nationally important.

Glen Etive, used as James Bond’s ancestral home in Skyfall, has appeared in many Hollywood films, including Harry Potter films and Braveheart.

A lodge which sits in the glen was owned by generations of Ian Fleming’s family and doubled as the ancestral home of the author’s most famous character.

The seven hydro schemes approved yesterday - which are set to power up to 8,000 homes - attracted 667 objections.

But councillors approved all seven applications at a meeting yesterday (Weds).

Four were approved unanimously, two by six votes to three and one by five votes to four.

Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Andrew Baxter, who represents Fort William, recommended three applications be refused.

He said electricity generated “did not outweigh” any “potential damage” caused to the Wild Land areas.

David Gibson, of the Dundee-based climbing club Grampian Club said the hydro schemes would have a “significant visual and physical impact” on the glen.

Conservation charity The John Muir Trust (JMT) also raised concerns and policy officer John Low, said: “One of the things that makes it a wild land area is the grandeur and spectacular nature of the hills you see above us.

“There’s no obvious sign of man-made influence in there.

“You can look in and enjoy a feeling of seclusion and wildness.

“We have concerns about anyone who wants to develop in such areas.

“You can see by the number of people just looking at the scenery today that is what people appreciate.

“Glen Etive is a very unusual place in that you can drive into it and then look into a wild land area.

“Yes, it’ll affect walkers and mountaineers, but also the tourists who just visit along the road, and who look in.”