Controversial plans for a line of electricity pylons between the Highlands and Central Scotland will be the subject of a public inquiry.
The Beauly to Denny line, proposed by Scottish and Southern Energy, would see 600 pylons built on a 137-mile route.
The inquiry, due to begin in early 2007, was announced after a large number of objections to the plans.
Scottish and Southern Energy said the development was needed in order to meet green energy targets.
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.
The announcement of the public inquiry by the Scottish Executive was welcomed by protesters against the pylons, the largest of which would be 65m high.
The four councils covering the area where they would be built – Perth and Kinross, Highland, Stirling and Falkirk – have all objected to the plans.
Cairngorm National Park Authority is also opposed to the application and tourism organisations have voiced their concern on the visual impact it would have.
A consultation exercise on the issue also saw more than 17,000 representations received.
Ronald MacLean, of campaign group Pylon Pressure, said opponents had fought long and hard for a public inquiry on the line, which would cross the national park and pass within sight of the Wallace Monument in Stirling.
“We are also glad an opportunity to be heard will be given to the questions that were originally dismissed by Scottish and Southern Energy,” he said.
Ian Paterson, of Stirling Before Pylons, said concerns about health and the impact on the landscape had been raised, as well as the possibility of underground cabling.
He said: “We hope these points will be fully covered in the public inquiry.”
Eleanor Scott, Green MSP for Highlands and Islands, described the inquiry as a valuable opportunity.
She added: “The upgrade does need to take place – in a careful and considered way – if Scotland is to make the most of its renewable energy resources and make our own contribution to tackling climate change.”
A Scottish and Southern Energy spokesman said: “It is clear that if Scotland is going to meet its renewable targets then the Beauly to Denny line has to be upgraded.”
“But we are entering the democratic process and will see it through to its conclusion.”
Inquiry reporters appointed by Scottish ministers are planning to hold pre-inquiry meetings along the proposed route in October.
The inquiry’s findings are expected to be issued by the end of next year.
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