A MAJOR new £4.5m hydro electric power scheme could be installed near Inverkip - creating enough electricity to power 1,000 homes.

The company behind the plan, Greenock Hydro Power, has applied for permission from Inverclyde Council to create a hydro-electric project that would take water through a new four-kilometre buried pipeline between Loch Thom and Inverkip.

The development would be based on the Kip Water and would use fluid from the Loch Thom Compensation and Daff Reservoirs, returning it to Kip Water via a new powerhouse that would be built between Bankfoot and Inverkip.

A switchroom would also be constructed along the route.

Roy Foster, director at Greenock Hydro Power, said the scheme would create jobs, provide clean energy for homes and would improve access at various points around Loch Thom.

He told the Tele: "The powerhouse is of a vernacular style and it should provide enough clean energy for 1,000 houses.

"It should create around seven or eight jobs for a two year period during construction and then after that one full time job and a part-time position."

Mr Foster, who lives in Argyllshire, says he has 35 years experience of building similar hydro schemes.

The scheme, on Ardgowan Estate land, would take about 20 months to complete.

Details of the workings of the proposal have been outlined in a document submitted to Inverclyde Council from Hydroplan on behalf of the company.

These states: "Water will be transferred from the intakes to the powerhouse to drive a water turbine, which in turn, will drive a generator that generates the electricity.

"The plant will be of storage status and the electricity generated will be exported to the National Grid via a new overhead line from the existing 11kV overhead line to the north of Dunrod Farm to a new switchroom and from here via a buried cable to the powerhouse."

Councillors Ciano Rebecchi and Gerry Dorrian, who represent Inverkip, said they could not comment on the proposals because they are both members of the council's planning board, while councillor Innes Nelson, who also represents the area and is the vice chair of the planning board, did not respond.

Meanwhile local residents are due to discuss the scheme at the next meeting of Inverkip and Wemyss Bay Community Council on Thursday January 10 at Inverkip Community Hub at 7pm.

Planning officials at Inverclyde Council are currently considering the proposals.