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Mega-pylons will destroy landscape in name of profit

The Scottish Nationalist government in Edinburgh has given the go-ahead for an upgrade of an existing power line that runs 137 miles from Beauly, near Inverness to Denny, near Stirling, despite massive local objections.

Two major energy companies, Scottish & Southern Energy and Scottish Power, can now go ahead and build 600 pylons, up to 217ft tall, through spectacular wilderness, including the Cairngorms National Park.

The plan is to increase the transmission capacity of the lines from 132,000 volts to 400,000-volts, to bring power from new onshore and offshore wind farms in the north of Scotland into the national grid.

This is only phase one – phase two will come when the power companies apply to link the line from Denny to Newcastle; the plan is to make Scotland Europe’s major producer of renewable energy.

Cash from the weather – a dream come true for a country that has little of the former and lots of the latter, you might think. But where are the benefits for ordinary Scots? Maybe some temporary jobs. That’s it.

Those opposing the scheme include every single local authority the line passes through, the Cairngorm National Park Authority, and 18,000 individual objectors as well as conservation organisations. They are all accused of “NIMBY-ism”, including by environmental campaigners who should know better.

To present this as a green project is a big lie – only the most recent in the whole “green new deal” fraud.

This is a money-making venture, by two transnational energy corporations – Scottish Power is a subsidiary of Iberdrola, one of the world’s largest energy companies; Scottish & Southern operates across the UK and Ireland.

it gives them an opportunity to offset carbon emissions from other forms of power generation whilst cashing in on subsidised green energy. If the subsidies end, and the profits fall, the power line will become a white elephant.

The real reason for the scheme was clarified by Willie Roe, chairman of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, who said the power line paved the way for the region to capitalise on its place as the renewable-energy "engine room" of Europe.

And Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said the go-ahead was “precisely the kind of positive action the government must take to create the right environment for business to flourish”.

As Helen McDade, head of policy at conservation charity the John Muir Trust, said: "Marching a mega-pylon line through some of our most world-renowned landscapes may be the most lucrative option for the energy industry but it is the wrong choice for Scotland."

The right choices would be:

As the pioneering 19th century conservationist John Muir said: “The gross heathenism of civilization has generally destroyed nature, and poetry, and all that is spiritual.” And he also remarked: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

Penny Cole
Environment editor
7 January 2010

Dave says:

This is the latest phase in the utter destruction of the last truely unspoiled and green areas of Britain. We have fought damn hard to keep the blight of Wind Turbines out of Northumberland and the national park, while viable green alternatives to them exist. Such as CCS and fluid bed combustion, employing all the tens of thousands of unemployed miners and the kids in the decimated mining communities. This greenwash nighmare is likely to march right on down through the most terrific unspoiled northumbrian countryside.

Were we consulted ? Do we want it ? No we werent and no we dont. Were having this programme rammed right down our throats and who is cheer leading this totally destructive and anti democratic measure ? The Greens and Climate Campaigners who are now supporting government measures and law to disregard public opinion and local authority veto. They cant see that as well as this scheme will come a massive nuclear programme, likewise forced upon us. We need a union and community plan of action, solar energy, forest conservation and replantification, clean coal, CCS, community combined heating and energy schemes, a halt to further road building, free transport throughout the country on rail and bus and tram to all non car owners. We should mobilise direct action NOW to stop the march of these metal monsters, and the governments who promote them.

Fiona says:

This plan is a greenwashed disgrace and will bring about the desecration of a fabulous area of natural beauty. The alternative plans outlined here are far more sensible and sustainable. More power to the NIMBYS of Scotland I say!

Urban Badger says:

Excellent blog. Analysis and solution spot on.

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