A planning inquiry into a controversial £320m scheme to plug Scotland’s renewable energy suppliers into the wider transmission network opens in Perth today.
Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Scottish Power, which run Scotland’s power grid, are seeking the go-ahead to build a 220 kilometre (137 mile) high-voltage power line from Beauly, near Inverness, to Denny in Stirlingshire to allow increased access for renewable energy providers in the north of Scotland to consumers further south.
The planned 400,000-volt line, which will replace an existing 132,000-volt line, will have 200 fewer pylons but some will be up to 65 metres (213ft) high. The upgrading of the line, which runs through some of Scotland’s most remote mountain wilderness, is opposed by walkers’ groups, who say it will encourage the building of more wind farms.
SSE said the new power line would offer “more reliable and less constrained network capacity for around 2,300 megawatts of renewable generation in the north of Scotland”. The inquiry, which is scheduled to last until December, could cost up to £8m and threatens to become the longest and most expensive in Scottish planning history.
Highland council’s director of planning and development, John Rennilson, said the council was happy with about 90% of the plan but added: “In a limited number of locations SSE has got it wrong.”
The Ramblers’ Association Scotland argues the project will have a significant impact on the landscape.
By Mark Milner
Tuesday February 6, 2007
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