The BLS Objects to the Loch Kemp Storage Scheme on south side of Loch Ness

February 2024: 

The Loch Kemp Storage Scheme is a proposed large pump storage scheme on the south side of Loch Ness. The development will damaged exceptionally lichen rich old growth woodland contained within the Ness Woods Special Area of Conservation (SAC). This is the highest level of environmental protection, however, the developers deem the scheme to pass the imperative reasons of overriding public interest test (‘IROPI’ test). That damage is caused to the SAC and the internationally important lichen assemblage is accepted by the developers but the BLS found the measures proposed to compensate for this damage unconvincing, given the outstanding nature of the site. As this was a complex case, the BLS contracted the ecological consultants EPR to review the evidence and prepare an objection. This review and objection has been submitted to the Scottish Government Energy Consents Unit and is attached as a PDF below.

Neil A Sanderson, BLS Conservation Officer

January 2024: 
An application has been made to the Scottish Government for a pump storage scheme on the south side of Loch Ness, the Loch Kemp Storage Scheme & (one needs to register to see the full documents). This is a major scheme with negative impacts on an internationally important lichen assemblage in SAC woodland (Ness Woods Special Area of Conservation) and adjacent nationally important lichen assemblages outwith the designated site. The SAC includes some wonderful lichen rich old growth woodland supporting numerous rare species, and supports one of the largest Nevesia sampaiana populations known in the world. The interest outside of the SAC occurs in moorland beside Loch Kemp and on the rocks on the inundation zone of Loch Kemp. 
There have been detailed lichen surveys demonstrating the presence of important and significant lichen assemblages. The terrestrial ecology summary report assesses the development as having an adverse effect which is significant at an international level on the woodland lichens and habitat within the SAC. In addition, an adverse effect is assessed, which is significant at the national level, on the lichens and their habitats outwith the SAC about Loch Kemp.
The damage to the site is accepted, so main issue to be considered is if the compensation proposed is sufficient to overcome the negative impact of the scheme. The BLS is consulting with a planning expert on this issue, but is currently minded to object to this scheme, given the adverse effect on lichen old growth woodland at an international level along with additional adverse impacts on nationally important habitats.  
Neil A Sanderson
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