A public inquiry into a new Beauly to Denny pylon line will waste 11 months of people’s time and at least £7million, according to a leading anti-windfarm campaigner.
Bob Graham, chairman of Highlands Against Wind Farms, claimed yesterday that no amount of argument at the hearing, due to begin next month, would halt a developer’s plans to double the size of many pylons along the 137-mile route.
Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) has defiantly refused to even consider burying any significant section of the line, citing additional cost.
Mr Graham said: “The rubber-stamping of its application is a foregone conclusion and we will see the relentless but inevitable destruction of Scotland’s heritage.
“Regardless of the outcome, the bureaucratic fascism that has been the hallmark of the Scottish Executive will overrule any democratic process.
“If Scotland really is sleepwalking towards independence, why are we trashing our main asset – our countryside – with giant windfarms and mega pylons just to export electricity south of the border?”
Condemning a widely perceived obsession with major onshore windfarm development, Mr Graham – who also questions the productivity of turbines – added: “Highland Council have already squandered over Â£250,000 of council tax on a renewable energy policy they already choose to ignore.
“Now, they are going to waste a further £140,000 on legal fees trying to stop the Beauly to Denny upgrade, which (planning chairman) Sandy Park claims is vital to the Highland economy.”
A Scottish Executive spokesman said: “We acknowledge there is a wide range of views in relation to these proposals.
“The forthcoming public inquiry will examine the issue in detail, and only after it has concluded will Scottish ministers make a decision.
“We completely reject any suggestion that it’s a foregone conclusion.”
The inquiry, centred in Perth but featuring local legs in Inverness, Newtonmore and Stirling, was prompted by 17,000 objections and rejection by all local councils along the route.
Highland Council’s concern was the “significant adverse amenity impacts” if approved.
The hearing is now expected to last almost 11 months.
Mr Park last week accused SSE of wasting public money by extending the inquiry, claiming much of SSE’s vast quantity of evidence was surplus to requirement.
SSE has defended the duration of the inquiry, saying it is necessary “to give the fullest possible account” of its proposals.
By Iain Ramage
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