Campaigners fear a new power line half the length of the controversial Beauly-Denny line is being planned
A campaign group fears another major power line development is being planned in north east Scotland, similar to the controversial Beauly-Denny line.
Strathdearn Against Windfarm Developments (SAWD) claims that a subsidiary of Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission, plans to construct a new 400kV powerline to be carried on 200ft high pylons from Beauly, Inverness-shire, to Blackhillock near Keith.
The length would be roughly half of the 137-mile Beauly-Denny line with campaigners claiming three route options are under consideration in the Strathdearn area.
To blight our hills and glens with an even bigger power line adds insult to injury - Pat Wells
Campaigners’ suspicions have been fuelled by months of exploratory and survey work carried out in the area by SSE though the company deny this is the case, claiming it was connected to upgrading an existing power line.
Co-ordinator of SAWD Pat Wells said: "The very last thing we want is a huge ugly power line 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.
"To blight our hills and glens with an even bigger power line 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, recreation tourism and field sports."
The route for the high voltage cable between Beauly, north of Inverness, and Denny, in south-east Scotland, sparked massive controversy as the new pylons carrying the line were much larger than those they were replacing.
A total of 600 new towers are being built - a reduction of 200 on the existing number. But some towers reach heights of 213ft.
A spokeswoman for SSE denied there were any firms plans for a new line but said it was keeping all options open.
She said: "One possible future scenario might mean a link between Beauly and Keith. We have made no secret of this. But it is just a potential option. It is not something for just now.
"It is something we might need to be looking at into the next decade.”