Ministers have approved plans to help minimise the cumulative visual impact of overhead lines around the new Beauly-Denny power line, including the removal of over 100km of existing overhead transmission line and steel pylons.
When the new line was approved by Scottish Ministers in January 2010, extensive conditions were imposed to protect the interests of communities and minimise the impact on the environment along the line.
As a result Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission Ltd (SHETL) are required to remove nearby existing overhead transmission lines in areas of the Highlands, the Cairngorms National Park and Perthshire, in addition to removing the existing 220km Beauly-Denny overhead line.
Four rationalisation schemes required by the consent and submitted by SHETL – covering the Cairngorms National Park, Balblair, Muthill and Errochty areas – have now been given the green light. The schemes will result in capital investment of around 50 million pounds.
Approval of the schemes mean:
- Removing three sections of 132kV overhead transmission line and steel pylons, totalling 6km, around Beauly and replacing them with underground cables;
- Removing altogether 53km of 132kV overhead transmission line and steel pylons between Boat of Garten and Cairnmore in the Cairngorms National Park;
- Removing 40km of 132kV overhead transmission line and steel pylons between Etteridge and Boat of Garten in the Cairngorms National Park and replacing it with 33kV overhead lines supported by wooden poles, or underground cables;
- Removing sections of 132kV overhead transmission line and steel pylons around Whitebridge and around Amulree, totalling 10km, and replacing them with underground cables;
- Removing sections of overhead line in an around the village of Muthill, totalling 8km, and replacing them with underground cables.
Energy Minister Jim Mather said:
“The Beauly – Denny upgrade will help to reinforce Scotland’s electricity network, a vital link in our efforts to build a low carbon economy and tackle climate change. It will help our vast renewables potential to be harnessed, transmitted and exported.
“My approval of the Beauly Denny scheme was subject to a detailed and comprehensive range of conditions to protect the vital interests of communities, the environment, our cultural heritage and our tourism sector.
“A significant element of this required SSE to produce rationalisation schemes to mitigate the cumulative impact of the line in combination with other existing wirescape. The rationalisation schemes approved today will help us realise the benefits of renewables whilst acting to safeguard the landscape.”
On September 28, 2005, Scottish Power Transmission Limited (SPT) and Scottish Hydro-Electric Transmission Limited (SHETL) applied under Section 37 of Electricity Act 1989 to install a 400 kilovolt (kV) connection between Beauly substation, near Inverness, and Denny North substation, near Falkirk.
Objections from five relevant planning authorities triggered a Public Local Inquiry, which took place between February 6, 2007 and December 20, 2007 in five sessions to consider both strategic issues and those specific to each relevant planning authority.
After considering all relevant considerations the application was approved by Scottish Ministers in January 2010.
The overhead line will be 137 miles / 220 kilometres long and will replace the existing single circuit 132kV overhead transmission line with a 400kV double circuit overhead line providing more reliable capacity.
The upgraded line will comprise approximately 600 towers, a quarter fewer than at present. The average height will be 53 metres, compared to the current 815 towers of an average height of 33 metres. The spacing between towers on the upgraded line will average 360 metres, compared to a current average spacing of 250 metres.
Most of the new overhead line will be within one kilometre of the existing line. The current line will be dismantled as part of the development.
Strict conditions on the development were imposed by Ministers. This included the requirement for five ‘wirescape rationalisation’ schemes – at Stirling, Cairngorms National Park, Balblair (Highland), Errochty (Highland) and Muthill (Perthshire) – to significantly improve the landscape at these particularly sensitive locations. This involves removing or improving existing ancillary power lines, pylons and poles over and above the existing – and replacement – main Beauly to Denny power line. The Stirling rationalisation scheme will be submitted to Ministers separately from the Highlands and Perthshire schemes.