Drumochter and Ben Alder Estates have submitted planning applications to retain several miles of the temporary access tracks built for the construction of the Beauly – Denny powerline. Drumochter wish to retain 4.5km of track east of the A9, whilst Ben Alder wish to retain a shorter 600m of track to the west of the A9.
The original permission granted for the Beauly-Denny powerline required that all temporary tracks must be reinstated once construction was completed. However, the documents submitted by the agents for Drumochter Estate state that “since the track was constructed, it has become apparent that it offers a number of significant benefits to Drumochter Estate, and therefore they are seeking permission to retain this section of track permanently. The principle [sic] benefit in retaining the track is that it allows staff and clients improved access across the estate.”
The construction of the access tracks caused controversy in 2012 when the Mountaineering Council of Scotland criticised their visual impact. At the time, SSE subsidiary, Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission Ltd told the BBC that it recognised the Drumochter track had a “temporary visual impact”. The spokesperson said: “It has always been our intention to remove the temporary access tracks, permitted within the consent of the Beauly to Denny project, once construction work is complete. This is included in our restoration plan for the Drumochter hills area, which has been approved by Scottish Natural Heritage. We acknowledge the temporary visual impact of the tracks but are fully committed to restoring the landscape back to its former condition.”
Cairngorms National Park have called in both the planning applications from Highland Council on the grounds that “the permanent retention of such tracks may have significant landscape and visual impacts.”