Applied Ecology was appointed by Drax to provide ecological impact assessment support for its proposal to expand their existing Cruachan Power Station which has been built inside Ben Cruachan mountain in Argyll and Bute.
Cruachan power station is one of only four pumped storage hydro-electric power stations in the UK. It can reach full electricity generating capacity in less than 30 seconds, and can operate at maximum power production for more than 16 hours if necessary. Pumped storage is one of the oldest forms of large-scale energy storage requiring two reservoirs based at different altitudes but close to each other. The reservoir at Cruachan has a capacity of 440 megawatts (MW) – enough to power mor than 90,000 homes. Water released from the upper reservoir flows through a turbine and into the lower reservoir. The flow of water rotates the turbine which in turn rotates a generator to produce electricity. The Cruachan power station turbine hall is located 1 km within the hollowed-out mountain of Ben Cruachan and houses four generators.
In May 2022 Drax submitted an application to Scottish Minsters under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1969 seeking permission for the construction and operation of an additional adjoining electricity generating station known to as Cruachan 2. The proposals are an expansion of the existing facility, and will increase the output of the existing power station by a further 600 MW.
The project has EU Project of Common Interest status and is recognised as a National Development under Scotland’s National Planning Framework. Applied Ecology was commissioned by Drax to provide the ecological support for this nationally significant application, and we undertook a wide range of habitat and protected fauna surveys associated with the Glen Etive and Glen Fyne Special Protection Area in which Cruachan Reservoir, at the top of the facility, sits.
The survey work undertaken was used to produce a full ecological and ornithological impact assessment, and a Habitats Regulations Assessment as part of an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR).