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Glen Nevis Hydro-Electric Scheme

Volume 648: debated on Wednesday 8 November 1961

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27.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give the names of those objectors to the Glen Nevis Hydro-Electric Scheme who represented to him that the public inquiry should be delayed until the publication of the Mackenzie Committee Report.

The National Trust for Scotland and, through it, nine amenity and recreational organisations— whose names I shall, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Could the Secretary of State say why he accepted these representations? Is not the question of amenity a separate one from that of the economics of hydro-electric generation? Why could not the important question of amenity have been disposed of one way or the other, even though the final decision on the scheme could not have been taken until after the Mackenzie Committee had reported. Why must the decision be delayed?

Originally, I was under the impression that the amenity arguments could be treated on their own merits, but it was later made clear to me by some of the amenity organisations that their arguments could not be fully deployed without reference to the Report of the Mackenzie Committee, and in the light of the principles underlying the Franks Report. I came to the conclusion that the Glen Nevis inquiry must be delayed.

Following is the list:

  • The Co-operative Holidays Association.
  • The Grampian Club.
  • The Lomond Mountaineering Club.
  • The Scottish Council for National Parks.
  • The Scottish Mountaineering Club.
  • The Association of Scottish Climbing Clubs.
  • The Scottish Rights of Way Society.
  • The Scottish Youth Hostels Association.
  • The Youth Hostels Association (England and Wales).

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why the Glen Nevis Hydro-Electric Scheme is being delayed until after the Mackenzie Committee has reported.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) on 23rd October.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that that is a very unsatisfactory reply? The holding up of these hydroelectric schemes is preventing the development of the country's natural resources to deal with these problems of peak-load through the ever-increasing demand for electricity. Thermal stations can never replace that, apart from the wider issue of retarding the development of Highland economy.

My hon. Friend is entering highly technical arguments. I understand that the Board's proposal to bring forward the 120 megawatt oil-fired steam set at Dundee will met the Board's generating programme.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say to what extent the plans of the Hydro-Electricity Board for future development have been dislocated as a result of the halt in capital expenditure? What costs will this involve for the Board?

The arrangements to enable the Hydro-Electricity Board to proceed with the preparatory work on further schemes mentioned in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire, should obviate delay in proceeding with any further hydroelectric developments which may be approved after the Mackenzie Committee has reported. I cannot answer the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question without notice.

I am informed that it may not be possible to report to me until the middle of next year.