A PUMPED storage hydro scheme on the shores of Loch Ness worth £550 million has been given the green light by the Scottish Government.

The Red John scheme is expected to bring up to 700 direct and indirect jobs.

It works by pumping water from the loch to a storage pond on top of a hill at times when there is excess energy on the grid. At times of higher demand, the water flows back down through a hydro generator, producing 450MW of energy. Developer ILI says it will save 45 million tonnes of CO2 over the lifetime of the project.

The Red John scheme was approved by Scottish ministers on Monday after being referred to the Government’s reporter.

Mark Wilson, chief executive of the ILI Group, said: “This will help pave the way for hundreds of millions of pounds of investment and hundreds of new jobs in the area and will be another major step in Scotland’s ongoing journey to becoming a leader in renewable energy.

“This project alone will save over 45 million tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime.

“There is currently a pipeline of over 5GW of pumped storage in the UK but we need to work closely with the UK Government to implement the market mechanisms that are needed to drive investment into these projects to ensure we hit our net-zero targets”.

Energy Secretary Michael Matheson said: “The Scottish Government has long been supportive of pumped hydro storage for its role in ensuring resilience in our electricity supplies, and for the tremendous opportunity it provides to unlock the potential of renewable energy and support Scotland’s net-zero ambitions.”