Campaigners who opposed the controversial Beauly-Denny powerline are outraged at the prospect of a second similar string of pylons covering a vast stretch of the north of Scotland.
Energy giants SSE are investigating the possibility of installing another powerline from Beauly to Blackhillock, near Keith, but insist they have not even looked into the details of such a project.
Opponents claim that, in effect, this is a second Beauly-Denny line, the only difference being that it will run to Keith from the Highland village.
Pat Wells, co-ordinator of the Save Strathdearn Campaign said: “The very last thing we want is a huge ugly powerline like the Beauly-Denny line now ravaging the Drumochter hills and Perthshire.
“Strathdearn residents and people across the world with connections to the area are already fighting to prevent the construction of a large electricity substation at Garbole, in the heart of the River Findhorn Valley.”
She added: “To blight our hills and glens with an even bigger powerline adds insult to injury.
“In particular it would totally destroy the unique landscape of Strathdearn – a wild, secluded glen cherished by local residents and thousands of people worldwide.
“It would also inflict serious financial damage on Tomatin, surrounding villages and the wider Highland and Grampian areas whose economy is so dependent on nature and recreation tourism and field sports.”
She claimed the SNP “plans to blanket the Scottish countryside with wind turbines”.
Mrs Well added: “Currently Scotland has about 2,500 operational wind turbines. Alex Salmond’s policy for onshore wind energy could see that rise to over 6,000.
“Applications are flooding into local authority planning departments at an alarming rate and approvals will result in further industrialisation of Scotland’s countryside and threaten its fast-disappearing wild landscapes.”
Mrs Wells asked: “Do the people of Scotland really want to see their unique and beautiful countryside ruined for generations by industrial-scale wind farms and the associated huge powerlines and pylons?
“Many people say how awful the Beauly-Denny line looks as it marches relentlessly across wild, open countryside.
An SSE spokesman said: ““We are constantly reviewing the need to reinforce and upgrade the transmission network against the requirements of generators to connect to it, and are obliged to do so under the terms of our licence to operate.
“One potential future scenario that is currently being assessed is an upgrade of the network between Beauly and Keith, however there is currently no defined scope for an upgrade of this nature.
“We have outlined the potential future need for this project in the national planning framework however, an upgrade to this part of the network is unlikely to be needed until into the next decade.”
He added: “A project of this scale would need to undergo the rigours of a full Environmental Impact Assessment and stakeholder consultation as part of the required planning process.
“Early consultation with all stakeholders is part of our normal process and we will engage with the relevant groups at the appropriate time.”
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