OPEN was commissioned to undertake a landscape and visual assessment (LVA) for a proposed hydroelectric scheme located at Inver, on the west coast of the Isle of Jura. The development was to install a small-scale hydro scheme; output of up to 1MW which involved construction of a new dam; raising the water level and expanding the area of Loch an Gleann Astaile, creating a flooded area behind the new dam. Further ancillary development formed two intake ditches; constructed a buried pipeline; created a cable route, tailrace, power-house and substation; and provided an overhead 33kv connection to grid.
The site was considered to have a high level of sensitivity in landscape and visual terms, largely due to its location within the Jura National Scenic Area (NSA) and a Search Area for Wild Land, with many aspects of the methodology and format of a full landscape and visual assessment were adopted for the assessment. The project included consultation and liaison with statutory consultees. Each of the project components was designed to integrate as fully as possible with the landscape in order to mitigate the effects of the proposed development through the reduction and, where possible, avoidance of landscape and visual effects. Visualisations of the development were produced to illustrate the change from the existing views resulting from the proposed development.
Planning permission for the scheme was granted in July 2010. Subsequent revisions to the proposals were described in an additional landscape and visual report in December 2010. Work commenced on site in spring 2011, and monthly visits have been carried out by the Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW). During this period, landscape and visual aspects of the project have been monitored via site reports and photographs. Site visits were carried out by OPEN in during and post construction and OPEN produced landscape and visual appraisal documents to review the landscape and visual aspects of the under construction and completed schemes, as well as reviewing restoration proposals.