A public inquiry into a proposed 137-mile power line upgrade through the Scottish countryside is to move into its second phase.
Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) want to build an upgraded line of pylons from the highlands to the central belt.
The new proposed pylons would be up to twice the size of the current ones but fewer would be used.
Over the next month the session in Inverness will hear evidence on the pylons’ impact on the landscape.
The strategic session of the inquiry ran from February to April in Perth this year.
The next phase will hear local arguments on the line which would run from Beauly, near Inverness to Denny, near Stirling.
The John Muir Trust will argue that the new pylons will further detract from some of Britain’s most important wild landscapes and cause a significant downturn in tourism.
But SSE will use an expert on visual impact to tell the inquiry that while there could be some significant adverse effects, efforts have been made to minimise them.
The Beauly Denny Landscape Group, which represents the John Muir Trust, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, the National Trust for Scotland and the Ramblers Association, has been arguing against the planned line.
Residents have also formed opposition groups, including Highlands Before Pylons and Pylon Pressure, raising concerns about threats to tourism, house prices and health.
SSE said the £320m development was needed for the reliable transmission of electricity from renewable sources from the north of Scotland, which would be enough to power one million homes.
It has already ruled out an argument for putting the line underground on cost grounds.
28 May 2007
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