Anger over proposals for doubling the size of electricity pylons strung between the Highlands and Stirlingshire could become an unavoidable election issue for scores of candidates along the route.
Opponents of Scottish and Southern Energy’s proposal for an overhead replacement line, which prompted more than 17,000 objections, have circulated their own “manifesto” to everyone contesting Scottish Parliament and council seats in the Stirling area.
It spells out residents’ concerns about potential health, environmental and tourism implications ahead of a final decision by Scottish Executive ministers.
Urging authorities to instead consider subsea cabling to transmit the energy, the Stirling Before Pylons group states: “Overhead power lines are almost universally perceived as very ugly and visually intrusive.
“High-voltage power lines require giant pylons and much heavier wires and inevitably lead to much greater visual impact and more severe danger to health.”
Much of its thinking was supported yesterday by two heavyweight expert witnesses to the continuing Perth public inquiry into SSE’s plans.
Former Scottish Natural Heritage chief executive Roger Crofts, speaking on behalf of the Beauly-Denny Land Group, said a “total lack of coherent Government policies and strategies for renewable energy sources” meant there was no justification for the replacement line.
And John Mayhew, National Trust for Scotland head of policy and planning, said: “Our landscapes form a key part of our national, regional and local identity. They provide the settings which are critical to people’s decisions to stay in or relocate to Scotland and which can encourage inward investment.”
Environmental consultant Stuart Young will take his turn at the inquiry today to allege that the developer’s photo montage images are “misleading the public”.
He has devised a method of producing what he considers to be realistic “photomontage” pictures of structures such as pylons and wind turbines which accurately demonstrate the impact on the landscape.
A spokesman for SSE said: “The montages were produced in accordance with best practice.” Updates on events at the public inquiry and background information can be seen at the www.beaulydenny.co.uk
By Iain Ramage
25 April 2007
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