Controversial plans for a 220km power line through some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery have been given the green light by ministers.
The long-awaited decision on the power line, which will stretch from the Highlands to central Scotland, was announced by Enterprise Minister Jim Mather.
He told MSPs in the Scottish Parliament there were “strong arguments” for a whole power line, and these outweighed withholding consent for the line or sections of it.
“I have therefore granted consent to upgrade the power line between Beauly and Denny, which is key to unlocking the vast renewable energy potential in the north of Scotland.”
But he said this project is not “a blueprint for unrestrained development”.
He added: “Consent is subject to a detailed and comprehensive range of conditions including material mitigation of the impact of the line on the surrounding areas.”
Bosses at energy firm Scottish and Southern Energy said today that the decision to approve the Beauly-Denny power line will create jobs as well as help Scotland meet its climate change targets.
Chief operating officer Colin Hood said there was an “overwhelming” need to improve the electricity network.
The decision to approve the 220km power line was welcomed by business leaders and environmental campaigners, who said the upgrade work is vital for Scotland’s renewable energy industry.
But some countryside campaigners reacted angrily. They say the new line of pylons will damage some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery.
Mr Hood said the project, which may see 500 jobs created, was subjected to a “huge degree of scrutiny”.
He talked of the importance of the “vast potential” of renewable energy sources in the north of Scotland.
“An upgraded line will help unlock that potential, generate new jobs and help Scotland, the UK and Europe meet legally binding renewable energy and climate change targets.”
The company may be able to start construction this summer, he said.