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Anti-pylon groups push sea option 

Opponents to a proposed power line upgrade to connect wind farms with the National Grid want the electricity to be carried underwater.

A public inquiry into the 137-mile plan has moved to its second phase with a hearing in Inverness.

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) wants to build an upgraded pylons line from the Highlands to Denny.

However, Scotland Before Pylons said sub-sea cables should be used as most of the electricity will be exported.

Spokesman Eddie Hughes said Scotland exports 40% of the electricity it generates to England and Northern Ireland and this figure will increase by 2013.

He said: “There is no benefit to Scotland by transmitting electricity by overhead lines.

“Highlands Before Pylons and Scotland Before Pylons advocate the electricity generated in the north east, Northern Isles and Western Isles should be taken to the markets in England and Northern Ireland where it is needed by way of sub-sea cable systems.”

Mr Hughes was speaking as the public inquiry reopened in the Thistle Hotel in Inverness.

Reliable transmission

Over the next month, the session 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.

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.

BBC News

29 May 2007

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