A Series of meetings likely to shape the future skyline of a huge swathe of the country kicked off yesterday at Aviemore.
Around 50 independent concerned residents and other interested parties got an early briefing ahead of a public inquiry which will focus on proposals to double the size of many of the electricity pylons running down the spine of Scotland.
Aviemore Highland Resort hosted the first of four meetings being held this month aimed at giving an insight into the mechanics of the full inquiry to be held early next year.
The briefings, organised by officials of the Scottish Executive’s Inquiry Reporters Unit, will give some shape to the consultation process to follow before ministers decide whether to sanction Scottish and Southern Energy’s proposals for upgrading the transmission line with 600 pylons along the 137-mile route between Beauly in the Highlands and Denny, near Stirling.
The upgrade was commissioned to facilitate an expected flood of new energy production from the green technologies.
But there were further questions yesterday about the democracy of the consultation process. Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey Liberal Democrat MP Danny Alexander added his voice to growing anger among communities within the Cairngorms National Park that they have been ignored because their stretch of the line will be discussed at an afternoon meeting planned for Perth – at least 70 miles away.
“I think it’s generally a scandal that the meeting that is consulting about the process of the inquiry as it relates to the national park is taking place in Perth,” he said. “People from Dalwhinnie, from Laggan, from elsewhere in the national park want to make sure that the process when the inquiry proper starts is open to them. Having to travel to Perth sends precisely the wrong message about how open the inquiry wants to be to the public.”
The next pre-inquiry meetings are at the Drumossie Hotel in Inverness on October 25, Perth Concert Hall on October 27 and in Stirling on October 31.
A spokesman for the executive defended the choice of Perth, saying: “Given the intense public interest in these meetings, we are extremely restricted in our choice of possible venues.
This venue was selected after attempts to arrange a venue in Pitlochry and Crieff were unsuccessful.”
Neither Pitlochry nor Crieff are within the Cairngorms National Park.
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