PLANS TO build Scotland's first large hydroelectric dam for 40 years were submitted to the Scottish Executive last month by energy company Scottish & Southern Energy.
The $120M, 1km long dam near Fort Augustus on the southern end of Loch Ness is designed to provide 150M units of electricity a year - enough to power 40,000 homes.
If given the go ahead, construction procurement for the dam under a design and build contract will start in the summer.
Scottish & Southern engineer Mike Seaton said conceptual designs, drawn up in consultation with environmental groups, were based on a rock fill dam with a 100m long reinforced roller compacted concrete spillway.
Rock is easily sourced in the area and will blend into the environment. The dam is expected to be up to 35m high.
Seaton said the hydroelectric dam would be one of Britain's most efficient because it will produce a large amount of energy using relatively small quantities of water.
The dam will be 600m above the main turbines which will be housed in an underground power station on the banks of Loch Ness. 'The drop will provide a large head, ' he said.
The project will include two 4m diameter tunnels running 17km through hard rock.
Seaton said: 'One tunnel will carry pressurised water to the power station and the other will help collect water to feed the reservoir from the hills.'
Scottish & Southern Energy hopes contractors will be on site in spring 2005 for completion by 2008.