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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 December 2007, 17:55 GMT
Inquiry 'ignored' energy options
Inquiry
The public inquiry is due to end soon
Campaigners have condemned a long-running public inquiry into a proposed line of electricity pylons from the Highlands to central Scotland.

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) hopes to install 600 pylons in a line from Beauly to Denny.

A public inquiry into the proposals is due to end on Thursday.

However, campaigners claim vital questions - such as whether a sub-sea cable would be a better alternative - have not been addressed.

SSE has said that the new 137-mile power line is vital to the future of "green energy".

The line would allow renewable energy from proposed wind and wave projects in the north to be transmitted to the major population centres of central Scotland.

'Show the world'

But the Beauly/Denny landscape group, which includes the John Muir Trust and the Ramblers' Association, is unhappy that alternatives to the 212ft pylons have not been properly examined.

Perth-based David MacLehose, from campaigners Scotland Before Pylons, said sufficient consideration had not been given to other options.

He said: "The European Union and Commission are pushing hard for member states to provide undergrounding for high voltage electricity communication where possible.

"I really think this is an opportunity to say here is an extremely important national infrastructure project and we want to show the world that we care about our landscape issues and we really want to put forward the very best example."

The inquiry, which started in Perth in February, was set up after SSE submitted plans to erect new pylons along the route from Beauly, near Inverness, to Denny, near Falkirk.

Although it is due to end shortly, it may be at least another year before Scottish ministers make a decision on the 320m development.

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