Controversial plans to put up a new power line through swathes of the Highlands have been shelved.
Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission (SHE Transmission) announced yesterday that it had taken the decision to put the brakes on the Beauly to Bonar Bridge project following a review.
The firm has cancelled upcoming consultation events and decided that the revamp was now “not required at this time”.
Under the proposals, known as the Beauly-Loch Buidhe project, SHE Transmission was planning to develop a new double circuit 275kV line between Wester Balblair substation, near Beauly and Loch Buidhe substation, near Bonar Bridge.
The scheme had attracted opposition, including from the John Muir Trust conservation charity.
As part of a consultation on the plans, the group said: “We conclude that it will not be acceptable for public money to be allocated to an environmentally damaging – and potentially socially and economically damaging – project without all the true costs and benefits of alternatives being considered and that detail being made available to the public.”
The U-turn by SHE Transmission follows studies undertaken along with the National Grid which found that the upgrade was no longer needed because of changes to the amount of electricity generators seeking to feed into the grid.
The firm’s project manager Mark Baxter said: “As the generation outlook has changed it is only right that we review our plans for reinforcing the network.
“We will continue to review the need and timing for a range of alternative reinforcement options and will continue to work with National Grid to identify the most economic proposals to advance.
“We remain committed to engaging with communities, landowners and statutory authorities on any potential developments at the earliest opportunity and would like to extend thanks to those who provided feedback on the Beauly – Loch Buidhe project to date.”
The company said it would now take time to consider alternatives, including examining the existing network to identify any available spare capacity, looking at the potential to increase the existing capacity, and giving consideration to new technologies such as high temperature conductors.