Highlands & Islands

Trust concerns about Beauly to Kintore powerline route

Castle Fraser Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The National Trust for Scotland says the route would move electricity towers closer to historic sites, such as Castle Fraser

The National Trust for Scotland has raised concerns about where an upgraded powerline between the Highlands and Aberdeenshire could be routed.

The existing line between Beauly and Kintore is to be reinforced so it can carry a greater amount of power from renewable energy projects.

NTS said the proposed route would bring the line close to historic sites.

Energy firm SSE said no decisions had been made on the route and further consultation had still to be held.

The trust said it fully understood the need for Scotland to upgrade its capacity to transmit electricity, but was opposed to the upgraded transmission line being routed close to historic properties such as Castle Fraser and Leith Hall in Aberdeenshire.

It also has concerns that the route would bring electricity towers closer to Culloden Battlefield, near Inverness.

In a letter to SSE objecting to the project, NTS chief executive Simon Skinner said: "Our own research has found that overhead powerlines are identified by both our members and the wider public as one of the most significant factors in degrading valued landscapes.

"It is therefore imperative that the careful siting and, where appropriate, undergrounding of power cables is followed.

"Without these protections, the enjoyment of our nationally and internationally valued landscapes will be damaged, with all the consequences that follow."

'Extremely damaging'

SSE, whose subsidiary SHE Transmission is leading the work, said it had held 21 consultation events on the project so far, has engaged with statutory bodies and charities and begun reviewing feedback from a further consultation that closed last week.

Another consultation on the scheme is expected to be held next year.

A spokeswoman said: "In order for the lights to stay on, SHE Transmission needs to upgrade the electricity network in the north of Scotland.

"We do everything we can to make sure this is done in a cost-effective way, while being sympathetic to the natural environment.

"We have held over 20 productive consultation meetings as part of the Beauly, Blackhillock, Kintore project and we take the opinions of the public and statutory bodies seriously."

It said burying the powerline underground was not possible because it would involve digging a trench two metres deep and the width of a dual carriageway road.

SSE said such work would be "extremely damaging to the environment".

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