The 'Loch Ness monster' could be threatened by plans for a water-powered electricity plant - that could lead to earthquakes and terrorist attacks, locals claim.

An energy firm wants to build a hydro plant and use wind power to pump water from the famous loch up to a new reservoir to be turned into electricity for 400,000 homes.

Under the plans a dam on the shores of Loch Ness - opposite the 17th century Urquhart Castle - would direct water to a power cavern 100m deep underground.

But locals fear it could have a harmful impact on wildlife, noise levels, tourism, and traffic as well as putting the area at risk of earthquake tremors and terrorist attacks.

Energy company Intelligent Land Investments (ILI) has submitted a planning application to Highland Council for the plant in Dores, near Loch Ness.

Council planners are expected to approve or reject the scheme later this year.
In an objection to the council, Dores resident Barry Dennis said: "As you will be aware, we live on a fault line in the Great Glen.

"I know that there have only been minor tremors, the most serious being an estimated 5.1 on the Richter Scale approx 150 years ago, but their wording in the plans that the chances of a breach are 'extremely low' is not exactly reassuring.

"The phrase 'acceptable fatalities' in the event of a breach isn't exactly reassuring either.

"There is a plan showing the effects if there was a breach and it shows that the whole village of Dores would be flooded.

"I would have serious reservations about the proposed positioning of the dam, as well as major concerns about traffic on the Dores road with an estimated workforce of over 300 and an estimated build time of six years.

"There are also security and environmental issues with construction covering such a large area with precious wildlife and fauna and also such a dam being an inviting target for terrorists."

Writing on Facebook, other locals had concerns the plans might harm 'Nessie'.
Mark MacCormick wrote: "First they want to build houses on an ancient battlefield, now they want to abuse one of Scotland's most visited tourist sites....what next?

"Build a funfair in Edinburgh castle?"

"What about Nessie?....What happens if she gets pulled through the turbines? Worrying times"

Pete Tuck added: "They'll have to build a 'monster' grill to prevent that..!"

ILI's plans - named the Red John Pumped Storage Hydro Project - would see water from Loch Ness pumped through an underground 'power cavern', using excess wind power.

It would be stored in a higher reservoir, then discharged through turbines when required to create electricity during times of peak demand.

ILI claim 300 jobs could be created, and if approved the plant would have a generating capacity of 400MW, enough to power around 400,000 homes.

The office of Inverness MP Drew Hendry has written to the council to voice concerns, after being contacted by worried locals.

In a letter, his constituency assistant Callum Clark said: "They have asked that Drew pass on their concerns particularly in relation to the blight their property will suffer, which they estimate will continue well beyond the scheme's completion, and will have significant negative impacts on their property.

"They fear that the scale of the current project is well beyond what is initially envisaged and that there will be significant future issues with road usage, on top of problems with disposal of waste materials."

In a further objection the Strathnairn Community Council said residents were worried about traffic and how it might impact kids walking to school.

In another response, the Highland Council's own access officer said the proposal will have a significant detrimental impact on local footpaths which are popular with tourists.

The company submitted the plans to the council in November.

The council is expected to make a decision later this year.

Intelligent Land Investments (ILI) Group has been approached for comment.