The final phase of removing redundant electricity pylons from the Cairngorms National Park is underway.
Work to dismantle the last section between Aviemore and Kingussie was marked yesterday with a symbolic toppling of a tower.
The infrastructure is being removed as the final stage of the Beauly-Denny project which, when approved in 2010, included a commitment to remove significant stretches of transmission lines from the park.
The initial phase of 32 miles of overhead line was removed, east of Boat of Garten and across the Lecht to Cairnmore in Aberdeenshire, in 2011 and 2012.
Work to remove towers between Boat of Garten and Kingussie began earlier this year. The final section, between Aviemore and Kingussie, is scheduled for completion in July.
Underground cables have been installed between Aviemore and Kingussie to enable the removal of the overhead line.
More than 300 towers within the park will disappear.
Former SSE chairman Lord Smith of Kelvin, who joined former colleagues to mark the event, said: “Following its successful energisation back in November 2015, it’s important to recognise the enormous contribution the line has made to Scotland’s thriving renewable energy sector.
“It was the first, vital piece of a jigsaw that is still coming together today, unlocking Scotland’s vast renewable potential.”
SSEN transmission chief David Gardner said: “Whilst electricity transmission towers will continue to play a key role for many years to come in keeping the lights on and facilitating economic activity and growth, the Beauly-Denny project provided a unique opportunity to look again at the existing infrastructure within the park.
“Through a number of planning conditions that were agreed during the planning process, we’ve been able to remove significant sections of existing transmission infrastructure from the park, delivering a lasting legacy for current and future generations.”
The new Beauly-Denny line has 600 new towers – 200 fewer than before. At 213ft, some are taller.
More than 18,000 people objected to the upgrade on grounds of visual blight, calling for the entire line to be buried underground. SSE refused on the grounds of cost.