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Underground power line ruled out

The energy company behind plans to upgrade a power line between the Highlands and Central Scotland has ruled out burying it underground.

The line, proposed by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), would see 600 pylons built on a 137-mile route.

SSE has launched a public consultation exercise on plans to put a line connecting the Western Isles to the mainland underground and undersea.

However, it said this technology was unfit for the Beauly to Denny line.

A public inquiry is to be held on the route next year following the level of objections to the pylons from councils and protest groups.

The new public consultation document published by Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission Limited – a subsidiary of SSE – relates to a plan for a new high voltage electricity line to link renewable energy sources on the Western Isles to the mainland electricity network at Beauly near Inverness.

It is proposed to bury cables between sub-stations on Lewis and the island’s shoreline.

It also proposes to lay cables under the sea from Lewis to Little Loch Broom and from there underground to Beauly.

It is estimated the project would cost £375m.

In a statement on its website, SSE said the technology needed to put a high voltage direct current (HVDC) underground would not work for burying the Beauly to Denny line.

This is something campaigners have been calling for to avoid having large pylons in the Highlands landscape.

SSE said: “The HVDC technology is not suitable for the proposed replacement of the existing Beauly-Denny transmission line with an upgraded line.”

“That line is part of the main interconnected transmission system.

“The scheme to upgrade it features three intermediate points where it is necessary for the line to collect additional power: Fort Augustus, Errochty and Braco.”

The Western Isles link is being driven by the islands’ potential to become a powerful source of wind and wave energy.

It is proposed to build 181 wind turbines on Lewis.