Scotland’s first commercial gold mine has been given the go ahead after previously being blocked due to environmental concerns.
Scotgold Resources has been granted planning permission to create the ten-year underground gold mine at Cononish, near Tyndrum, in the Trossachs.
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority granted the firm planning permission to establish the first Scottish goldmine in around 500 years after a previous application was refused last August.
The area is part of the national park and is overlooked by a number of Munros, among them Ben Lui, which is scaled by up to 15,000 climbers a year.
Original plans were turned down by the national park authority board last year amid concerns the mine would spoil the look of the area.
After the project was given the green light on Tuesday, national park convener Linda McKay said: “Without question this has been the largest and most complicated planning application we have ever had to consider.
"As guardians of some of the most stunning scenery in Scotland, it would have been easy to refuse the second application if we were considering the short term impact on the landscape but this national park plans for long term conservation management and that includes having the vision to see beyond the temporary life of the gold mine. We also have to take into consideration the support from the local community council which backs the proposals.
"When the first application was refused, our main concern was the size and shape of the tailings management facility and poor restoration proposals meant there would be serious long term impacts on Glen Cononish."
She added: "Immediately after the refusal, national park officers took a constructive and proactive approach with the applicant to find solutions to the main objections. With the second application, the applicant halved the size of the facility and redesigned its shape to fit in the landscape. We also have a 30 year commitment to improve the wider Glen Cononish.
"The Greater Cononish Glen Management Plan will include extending existing native Caledonian pine forest and improving habitats and access tracks. This legally binding agreement means the Glen will regain its quiet, remote character following closure of the mine and the landscape will be improved from its current state.
"Overall, as a board we understand that there will be a temporary loss to Glen Cononish’s special character but we have greater confidence that we can secure both long term conservation gain and economic benefits to the local economy and Scotland."
The proposed development involves the annual extraction of up to 72,000 tonnes of ore over a decade, creating 52 jobs. The ore will be crushed on site and the gold extracted. Slurry will then have been pumped to a facility around 30m high.
Scotgold chief executive officer Chris Sangster said: "We are delighted with the decision from the Parks Board in approving the executive director's recommendation.
"This represents the culmination of three years' detailed work towards planning a mining development which meets the exacting environmental standards required by the National Park Authority.
"The Cononish project provides a significant commercial opportunity in the interests of all stakeholders, in particular the local community, which has been a keen supporter for a development that promises increased local employment and economic activity.