THREE hydro-electricity schemes planned for one of Scotland’s wildest and most beautiful glens could still be halted after a last-ditch effort to stop them.

The schemes were approved by planners this week but now a fresh vote will have to be taken, and it could mean the entire Highland Council being bussed into Glen Etive to see for themselves the impact of the schemes on the area.

The man behind the rethink says the three schemes are an important test of Scotland’s ability to protect wild land areas from hydro development.

The schemes were among seven from Dickins Hydro Resources in Glen Etive, close to Glen Coe, approved by Highland Council’s Planning Committee South on Wednesday. The glen was made famous by its use as a backdrop in the James Bond film Skyfall. Its single-track road leading down to the sea is a popular and dramatic tourist destination.

The hydro schemes include access track and dams on seven burns, and all seven had attracted opposition. The John Muir Trust and Mountaineering Scotland, the organisation for climbers and hillwalkers, were among those who objected to all or some of the schemes. The three on the southeast side of the River Etive attracted particular opposition as they are in an area designated as “wild land” by the Scottish Government in its official wild land maps, published after a wide-ranging survey of wilderness areas carried out in 2014.

Councillor Andrew Baxter, who lives nearby in Kinlochleven and represents the area, spoke out against the three at the meeting on Wednesday because of the area’s wild land status, on the completely undeveloped southeast side of the glen which only has footpath access.

His motions failed, but now he has used a rule that allows any planning permission granted by planning committees to be reconsidered by the full council, provided at least 15 councillors back the idea within three days of the decision. By last night, 18 councillors had backed the rethink, and Baxter said council officials had confirmed the three plans will be reconsidered.

Before this week’s meeting of the planning committee, its members were bussed into Glen Etive to see for themselves the likely impact of the schemes on the area.

Baxter said it is now likely that all 80 Highland councillors could be asked to visit the glen next month before a special meeting of the full council at the end of March is held to reconsider the plans.

He says only nine of the planning committee were at the meeting, and another councillor who like himself represents the area in question was unable to attend – this was one of the reasons he has acted. He said: “It’s such an important issue not just from a personal point of view but on a wider national basis. When Scottish Natural Heritage first published the wild land maps three or four years ago now I was quite vocal within council about us supporting them.

“This really hinges on the wild land area and my feeling that they don’t have the recognition that they should within the planning system, and that they do need protection. Although these three applications, some would argue, are on the very edge of the wild land area, it’s not about the impact on the entire area ... the experience of wild land can be a very localised thing and these will have an impact on this part of it. If we start encroaching onto the wild land at the edges developers can come along and say ‘oh we’re just going a little bit further’ and all of a sudden we find we have encroached deep into wild areas.”

Baxter was also concerned about the schemes setting a precedent: “This is the first substantial set of hydro schemes within the designated wild land areas that we have seen come forward – we have seen some wind farms, and everyone has assumed that hydro power is fine and it’s less obtrusive but the restoration of the land after the work is done can go horribly wrong and really scar the landscape.”

He also fears that neither the council nor SNH have the resources to police the schemes and ensure the developer sticks to the conditions of his permission.

Calls to William Dickins, who runs Dickins Hydro, were unanswered.