Cairngorms capers and the disappearing towers

Tower steelwork being removed from the Cairngorms National Park

Work is under way to remove the final steel transmission towers from part of the Cairngorms National Park, between Boat of Garten and Kingussie.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has started work to dismantle and remove the stretch of 40km of overhead line, supported by 120 steel transmission towers. 53km of overhead line was removed from the National Park, east of Boat of Garten and across the Lecht to Cairnmore in Aberdeenshire during 2011 and 2012.

The remaining improvements are the final major element of the Beauly-Denny transmission project which has replaced the spine of Scotland’s electricity transmission network between the Highlands and the Central Belt. The work is beginning now to minimise the potential for disruption to sensitive breeding birds, including capercaillie and ospreys, later in the year. If weather conditions allow, the towers should all be gone by this summer.

Lead Project Manager Donnie Scobie said:

“It might seem surprising that we are starting work at this time of year, when winter weather presents some extra challenges to the team working on site.

“It’s partly a reflection of the sensitive environment we’re working in. The initial focus of our work is the section of overhead line between Boat of Garten and Aviemore, which includes locations where we need to avoid potential disturbance to capercaillie or ospreys during the breeding season.

“The work we are carrying out will bring a permanent improvement to one of Scotland’s most important landscapes, but we also need to minimise any short term impacts on local people and the environment. Our environmental team and our contractors are working closely with the Cairngorms National Park Authority and Scottish Natural Heritage to ensure the right measures are in place to do that.”

Previous work to remove overhead power lines from the eastern approach to the National Park, via the Lecht, was completed in 2012, early in the construction of the 220km Beauly-Denny line. New underground electricity distribution cables have now been installed to enable the removal of this further section of overhead line by replacing its role in powering local communities.

As part of the Beauly-Denny works, a further 10km of 132 kilovolt overhead line has also been replaced by underground cable in Perthshire from Amulree in the Sma’ Glen, north of Crieff, and Whitebridge, south of Tummel Bridge, as well approximately 6km of overhead line in the vicinity of Beauly substation.

About the author

Van on rural road

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks

We're responsible for maintaining the electricity networks supplying over 3.7 million homes and businesses across central southern England and north of the Central Belt of Scotland. We own one electricity transmission network and two electricity distribution networks, comprising 106,000 substations and 130,000 km of overhead lines and underground cables across one third of the UK. Our first priority is to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity to the communities we serve in Scotland and England.

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