Scotland’s most expensive and lengthy public inquiry is set to close tomorrow amid a welter of criticism from environmentalists over its conduct.
The Beauly-Denny Landscape Group, a coalition of six environmental groups including the John Muir Trust and the Ramblers Association, yesterday concluded the Public Local Inquiry into the project had not been fit for purpose, given it will close without ever giving serious consideration to whether the proposed power line from Beauly to Denny is needed in the first place.
Nigel Hawkins, director of the John Muir Trust, said: “This multimillion-pound inquiry has completely failed to scrutinise Scottish and Southern Energy’s (SSE) claim that the 136-pylon line is essential to transporting renewable wind energy from the far north. At no point have clear alternatives to the line such as a sub-sea cable been properly considered.”
The line will require approximately 600 steel lattice towers up to twice the height of the existing line and nearly as tall as the Scott Monument in Edinburgh. The Beauly-Denny Landscape Group is concerned the development will permanently disfigure Scotland’s landscape.
A Scottish Government spokesman challenged the environmentalists’ view of the inquiry.
He said: “The initial sessions of the inquiry dealt with strategic issues and the reporters heard evidence from a number of parties on the need for the line, including the possible use of alternative options such as under-grounding or sub-sea cabling.
“The reporters have heard a great deal of evidence about need and also issues arising from the proposed route of the line at five inquiry sessions. This evidence will be presented to ministers in due course.”
By David Ross
19 December 2007
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