Controversial plans to erect giant pylons across huge areas of scenic Glen Quaich in Perthshire would “utterly blight this highland gem”, a public inquiry was told.
Maureen Beaumont, a partner in the Sma Glen’s Foulford Inn and chair of East Strathearn Community Council, is among the hundreds of objectors to proposals by Scottish and Southern Energy to upgrade the Beauly-Denny power line.
Around 600 pylons, some as high as 65 metres, would be built along the 222-kilometre route.
A marathon public inquiry has switched to the Quality Station Hotel in Perth to hear the latest batch of evidence.
Mrs Beaumont said: “Neither the community council nor the business accepts the need for a 400kV line from Beauly to Denny and, were the need for such an upgrade to be demonstrated, we do not accept that the best means of achieving it would be by an overhead line on the route proposed in the planning application before this inquiry.”
She described Glen Quaich as “an absolutely prime example” of Highland Perthshire scenery.
“It gives every visitor the opportunity to experience the very essence of Highland Perthshire – its remoteness and tranquility, its wilderness and wildlife, its naturalness and nature – and yet is accessible to all,” she told the inquiry.
“A line of huge pylons and transmission lines would utterly blight this highland gem.
“A recent decision by Scottish ministers to refuse consent for a windfarm development here because of adverse impacts on the local landscape underlines the importance of preserving such a precious environment,” she stressed.
“The potential to create a cumulative impact with the proposed windfarm at Logiealmond ought also to be addressed.”
Mrs Beaumont expressed concern at the possible effects the development would have on private water supplies and wanted to know why no assessment had been carried out.
As the line of the proposed pylons proceeded southwards, she said, it would march across “lovely Strathearn,” as described in song.
“Even a cursory look at the map shows that it is not easy – in fact it is well nigh impossible – for this proposed development to cross the valley without impinging seriously on the amenity of many residents because of the manner in which the dwellings are situated.
“Not only will it impact on the visual and residential amenity of many properties and their market values, it may well impact on the health of their occupiers, according to the cross-party inquiry chaired by Dr Howard Stoate.
“In the light of the inquiry’s findings and in view of the fact that we now live in an era of increasing litigation, it would surely be in the long-term interest of SSE to underground the proposed line in areas such as Strathearn
“At one fell swoop they would preserve the environment and nullify any health risks.”
The importance of tourism to the Scottish and Perthshire economies was also highlighted, with over 14 per cent of the Big County population employed in that sector – and the figure might well be higher in the Crieff and Strathearn area.
“We cannot afford to be at all complacent,” she stressed. “It would surely be extremely short-sighted and cavalier to damage forever our unique countryside, which gives our country such a special place in the hearts of our visitors and brings them back, year after year.
“We believe that our countryside is very special and deserves to be protected for future generations and for the good of our local economy.
“Since the first pylons were erected to bring power to the glens we have moved on in terms of conservation, technical ability, medical understanding and engineering skills.
“In our opinion it beggars belief that SSE cannot put forward a more imaginative, less intrusive replacement for the 132kV line than just a bigger version of what has gone before.
“In order that our local population’s health, environment and economy be protected, I would urge the reporters to reject this application and thus refuse planning permission for the overhead line.”
The inquiry continues.
26 October 2007
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