Fears have been raised that the Moray countryside could be destroyed by giant electricity pylons needed for a nearby windfarm.
Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission wants to install cables from the 59-turbine Dorenell windfarm, near Dufftown, to the Blackhillock substation near Keith.
As part of the project, a line of 78ft pylons will stretch across the countryside – dwarfing the clock tower in Dufftown that they will pass within a mile of.
Yesterday, the team behind the project tried to allay some of the fears about the impact they would have on the landscape, and stressed there was no other way to link up to the windfarm on the Glenfiddich Estate.
Engineers for Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission have ruled out routing the cables underground, due to the cost and the difficulty in maintaining them.
But Alistair Jeffs, a community councillor in Dufftown, argued the cables for the recently-approved £2.6billion Beatrice offshore windfarm would be going underground, and raised concerns about the impact the pylons would have on not only the town’s own heritage, but also nearby Auchindoun Castle.
He said: “Cables are going underground from Portgordon to Keith as part of the Beatrice wind. We have an area of great landscape value, and an A-listed castle which isn’t just a pile of stones. If it’s good enough for there than it should be good enough for here.”
He added: “You wouldn’t be allowed to build a line of clock towers across the countryside. I don’t see what the difference is with pylons.”
And Colin Mackenzie, who lives near the 15th century castle, said the masts would ruin visitors’ experience of the area.
Although resigned to the fact the pylons will probably be built less than a mile from the historic landmark, he intends to do as much as he can to ensure their impact is kept to a minimum.
“The area was classed as being of great landscape value. You might as well take that off with the amount of impinging by man-made structures.
“Over time, it has been completely changed by pylons and wind turbines. The cumulative effect on Auchindoun Castle is very disappointing now.
“When you walk up the road to it now you are confronted by all these man-made elements. It is ruining the visitor experience.”
During yesterday’s public exhibition, representatives from the firm said they had tried to minimise the effect the pylons would have on the area.
Landscape architect from consultants ASH, James Truscott, said: “We have looked at where there are areas of less human influence and tried to stay away from them. We have also routed them to be hidden by natural features, like trees, as much as possible.”
Project manager Tim Fletcher said fibreglass pylons had been chosen because they were stronger than wooden ones and would not create as big a blot on the scenery.
And one local who attended the event, said: “I don’t have a problem with it. I would much rather they did that than looked into fracking.”
Another public exhibition will be held at Drummuir village hall today between 3pm and 7pm.