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Breaking: Highland Council defers Caley Thistle’s bid for a battery storage scheme

By Scott Maclennan

Caledonian Stadium, the home of Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Caledonian Stadium, the home of Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Highland Council has deferred an application by Inverness Caledonian Thistle for a battery storage scheme that the club says would put it on “the cusp of securing our long term financial stability.”

At the south planning application committee the officials withdrew an objection over drainage after details were provided but that still left three grounds for refusal – loss of open space, noise pollution and the insufficient support for biodiversity.

There seemed to be a willingness on the part of elected members to find a solution as one after another they put forward ideas that could potentially change the recommendation from refusal to approval.

But they were rebuffed by officers who detailed how not all issues can be resolved by planning conditions – chiefly the loss of open space through an “industrial process” – but a third way was found.

Greens Councillor Chris Ballance argued that the subjective nature of the decision that the loss of open space outweighs the benefits from a battery storage scheme a site visit would be appropriate.

He also indicated that it would also provide the applicant – Intelligent Land Investments (ILI) – to provide additional information to support their planning application.

The move was supported unanimously by the south planning applications committee.

How Caley Thistle will benefit (or lose out if councillors back the refusal)

The applicant is the aforementioned ILI but according to the planning paper the “key rights and agreements” are held in the name of ICT Battery Storage Limited a company that is “wholly owned by Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Club.”

The report said that the “profits from the facility will support the football club and the community football outreach programmes of The Inverness Caledonian Thistle Community Development Trust.”

It seems that ILI – the developer of the Red John pumped storage hydro scheme on Loch Ness – will benefit by having a ready base for the energy it generates locally or elsewhere.

But if councillors reject the plans then that steady revenue would be lost with the club needing hundreds of thousands of pounds in non-sporting revenue to annually to break even.

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