Scotland's first commercial goldmine will be dug near the banks of Loch Lomond, national park authorities confirmed yesterday.
Australian mining company Scotgold Resources finally won its long planning battle at a special meeting of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park board, which approved the firm's plan. The long-term economic and conservation gain outweighed the environmental impact, authorities said.
But Linda McKay, the park's convener, admitted the mine would spoil the area's "special character".
The site at Glen Cononish, Scotland's only significant known gold reserve, will operate for 10 years and is thought to contain up to £50 million of gold and silver. Scotgold had a previous application for the 39-hectare site refused and was granted planning permission only after agreeing extraction limits and restrictions on its working hours.
It will be the first time in 500 years that gold has been mined successfully in Scotland.
Soaring prices of the metal have made the country's mineral resources an increasingly attractive prospect for mining companies. The plan to extract Glen Cononish's 154,000 ounces of gold and 598,000 ounces of silver will create 50 jobs, Scotgold said.
Ms McKay said: "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."