The Grampian Club's Inbhirfhaolain Hut in Glen Etive

The Grampian Club's Inbhirfhaolain Hut in Glen Etive

Climbers and hillwalkers face losing the use of a remote Highland hut if a hydro-power scheme goes ahead, its owners said.

The Grampian Club has used the Inbhirfhaolain hut in Glen Etive for 57 years, but a planned scheme would taint its water supply, making the hut uninhabitable, it said.

The Dundee-based club has objected to the proposals by Fulham-based Dickins Hydro Resources to install a hydro scheme near the former roadmen’s hut.

The club said the sole water supply is from the nearby Allt Fhaolain burn at a designated collection point, a feature which appeals to many who favour a simple approach to enjoying the mountain environment. The hut is hired out at a cost of just £6 per person a night, and during the past seven years attracted occupancy of more than 4,500 bed-nights, providing a significant boost to the local economy, it said.

The 230-member club took the tenancy of Inbhirfhaolain hut in 1961 and bought the property and surrounding land in 1991.

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

“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 hillwalkers 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.

“The hydro power scheme threatening our property is one of no fewer than seven schemes proposed by Dickins Hydro within an 11km stretch of Glen Etive, which is part of the Ben Nevis Glen Coe National Scenic Area.

The hut is used by outdoor enthusiasts heading for the mountains of Glen Etive. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The hut is used by outdoor enthusiasts heading for the mountains of Glen Etive. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

“If approved, these schemes would have a significant visual and physical impact on the wild land and amenity of the glen for walkers, climbers, photographers and canoeists and we hope that the Highland Council will exercise appropriate judgement in its assessment of the planning applications.”

The Grampian Club said the application states that during construction the flow in the river can be expected to be disrupted for periods of time, but has not considered the impact on occupancy of the hut.

“The risk of contamination during construction is stated in the application and the club is concerned about this and the ongoing agitation of the water which will be unfit for human consumption, with significant consequences for occupancy of the hut and its financial viability,” it said. “Had the applicant bothered to establish the water source for the hut this would have been obvious.”

It added that noise from the powerhouse turbines will be constant and intrusive in the secluded glen. Any noise from the turbines would detract considerably from the amenity and enjoyment of visitors to the hut, the club said, leading to a decline in occupancy and income as the deterioration in the hut’s established reputation and amenity became widely known.

The development would be visually intrusive, it added. The spokesman said the club also had rights to the water supply and access to it beyond its property boundary.

A spokesperson for Dickins Hydro said: “Dickins Hydro has been made aware of the concerns of the Grampian Club today and is currently considering the comments of the club and will issue a response once it has fully considered them.”

More details are on the Highland Council website.