MCoS Will Also Object To Coire Glas Hydro Scheme

Another group ‘not against renewable energy‘ set to object

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland are another conservation-oriented  group who have  indicated that they will object to the Coire Glas pumped storage hydro development,  even though they recognise its merits.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland [MCofS] would like to point out that we support the development of renewable energy schemes, particularly HEP, especially where these can be developed in what we consider to be appropriate locations ie those that have no impact on areas of wild land and areas of landscape value and significance. We recognise the importance of these schemes in addressing climate change, security of energy supply and the reduction of carbon emissions.

We recognise that this HEP proposal represents imaginative engineering construction and would gain maximum energy generating benefit from the site, unlike run of the river schemes, where the full potential may not be realised. There is also local availability of transmission infrastructure. However, we have several major concerns about this particular development which I indicate in the sections below. We very much appreciate the opportunity to comment at this early stage but would point out that we envisage that  if this Preliminary Scoping becomes an Application that we should make a strong objection  and that we anticipate that there would be considerable robust opposition to the scheme.

So – yes, it’s great from an engineering and efficiency viewpoint, we believe in climate change and we want to save the planet . . .  but not in our back yard, which  is anywhere where there are ‘areas of wild land and areas of landscape value and significance’ –  or most of Scotland, in effect.

I wonder what would have happened if lobby groups like MCoS were around during the great ‘Power From The Glens’ hydro bulding phase in the 1950s and the 1960s. I imagine they would  have objected to every dam and every power transmission line, in which case the majority of the people who actually live and work in the area would still be running their diesel generators or living in the gloom of their oil lamps.

Of course there were objection at the time to what the Hydro Board was doing, but fortunately for the Highlands and for Scotland these developments did go through and by the 1960s, the face of the Highlands had changed forever. New dams headed new, or larger, lochs. Rivers had been diverted through aqueducts and underground tunnels, and power stations settled on loch-sides. Electricity lines on steel pylons and wooden poles distributed electricity to remote settlements and individual crofts, bringing the power from the glens into people’s homes. Life would never be the same again.

Today, what was once feared as a threat to tourism, now actually attracts visitors. The dam and fish ladder at Pitlochry, a town which once closed its doors to North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board officials, is now a major tourist attraction, visited each year by over 500,000 people from all over the world.

Bodies like MCoS  have a duty to their members  to do whatever is in their power to ensure that this scheme makes the smallest impact possible on the natural environment and the indigineous wildlife. In doing so they will, I am sure,  be speaking for everyone except the accountants. However, blanket opposition in the interests of a very small section of the population is a surely a more questionable standpoint, especially in light of the Council’s expressed view that :

The environment of Scotland, although we may sometimes wish it, cannot be fixed forever.” 
(MCoS website, ‘Planning and Consultation Responses’)


MCoS response to Scoping Opinion for Coire Glas

Coire Glas information (SSE site)


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