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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 March 2006, 18:27 GMT
SNH 'not opposed' to pylons plan
SNH believes that concerns over the proposals can be addressed
Scottish Natural Heritage has said it is not opposed in principle to plans to build a 137-mile power transmission line of huge pylons from the Highlands.

The 400kV line from Beauly, near Inverness, to Denny, near Falkirk, was the "most extensive development" on which the body had ever taken a view.

It did say it would prefer alternative routes for some parts of the line.

Plans were submitted to the Scottish Executive last year by Scottish and Southern Energy and ScottishPower.

Park protest

SSE said the upgraded line would ship renewable energy to the south.

The company does not believe that a current 132kV line is sufficient to feed power from the growing number of wind and hydro energy sites in the Highlands and Islands to the National Grid.

It has proposed an upgraded line with about 600 pylons, some up to 213ft high.

The company said that overall there would be 200 fewer pylons than on the existing transmission line, but that they would be bigger.

The development will lead to some unavoidable adverse impacts
John Thomson
SNH director

The proposals have already been attacked by the Ramblers Association in Scotland, which claimed they would be "disastrous".

Part of the proposed line will run through the Cairngorms National Park, which is one of the areas where the route has sparked most protest.

Campaign group Cairngorms Revolt Against Pylons called for a local public inquiry following the application.

The group has warned that the move would totally contradict the park's central aims, as well as undermining Scotland's reputation for wild landscapes.

Jo Cumming, chair of the campaign group, said: "We are disappointed that SNH has not asked for a strategic environmental assessment which would take into account all the energy requirements across Scotland, the broad range of renewable energy options and energy conservation.

"What will the Cairngorms National Park and Scotland as a whole look like in five to 10 years' time?

"If even a few of the proposed plans for wind farms go ahead the CNP and Scotland will be a wirescape."

However, SNH concluded that many concerns are likely to be addressed through provision of further information or the application of planning conditions.

'Detailed talks'

The organisation said there were some outstanding issues for which it was seeking amendments of the proposal.

In particular, it wishes to see alternative route options considered in greater detail where the route crosses the Cairngorms National Park and the Ochils, near the Wallace Monument.

John Thomson, SNH director, said: "This development is seen as the key to unlocking the environmental and economic benefits of renewable energy production in areas which hold some of the best resources in Europe.

"It will also inevitably impact upon areas valued highly for their wildlife, habitats, and landscapes, and for the outdoor recreation opportunities that they offer."

He added: "The development will lead to some unavoidable adverse impacts. Our role is to ensure these are minimised as much as possible.

"We will need further information to be supplied and the acceptance of planning conditions, as well as more detailed talks with the developer in relation to landscape and visual impacts."

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