Concern for future of popular mountaineering hut if hydro scheme gets go-ahead

Buachaille Etive Mor in the Scottish Highlands, Scotland
Buachaille Etive Mor in the Scottish Highlands, Scotland
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A popular mountaineering hut in one of Scotland’s most dramatic glens will be left “uninhabitable” if plans for a new hydroelectric power scheme are given the green light, its owners have warned.

The hut in Glen Etive has been providing shelter for walkers for almost 60 years after being bought by the Dundee-based Grampian Club in 1961. It currently charges a modest £6 per night.

Its owners say the hut’s sole water supply will be rendered “unfit for human consumption” if plans for a hydro power scheme nearby are waved through by Highland Council.

Glen Etive, which is near Glencoe in the West Highlands, is renowned for its dramatic scenery and its appearance in the James Bond film Skyfall has led to a spike in visitors.

Hillwalkers using the Inbhirfhaolain hut currently rely on the nearby Allt Fhaolain burn to provide water for washing, eating and drinking, but there are fears it may be affected by construction work.

The Grampian Club has lodged a formal objection to the plans, claiming the flow of the burn could be disrupted and its water contaminated if the work goes ahead.

Its members are also concerned that noise from the hydro scheme’s turbines will be “constant”, spoiling residents’ enjoyment and discouraging them from staying.

The club also claims that the project will look like an “industrial facility” which is “totally unsuited to its surroundings”, ruining the views from the hut and the road through Glen Etive.

“The proposed scheme is a direct threat to this unique, low-cost accommodation which will be uninhabitable if the scheme goes ahead,” said club spokesman David Gibson.

“Neither the developer nor its contractors have contacted the club nor have they made any assessment of impacts on occupancy resulting from changes to the water supply.

“They have not considered the broader issues arising from the scheme which would affect the amenity of the hut, which has provided low cost accommodation for climbers and hill walkers in Glen Etive for almost 60 years.

“If this scheme goes ahead, it is obvious that people will no longer be able to use the accommodation, and our members stand to lose the value of the property and its income, which is in any case reinvested in the property. The property may well be a write-off.”

Unlike some remote bothies in Scotland, the hut in Glen Etive is frequently occupied. The club said it had recorded more than 4,500 bed nights over the past seven years.

Mountaineering Scotland said it was “concerned” about the future of the hut but was examining the application before deciding whether or not to make an objection.