By Courtney Cameron
Residents in Tarbert are protesting against plans for a new 200ft high power line they say will ruin their scenic skyline.
The fishing village is home to Robert the Bruce’s Castle and attracts thousands of visitors every year – but locals fear if the plans go ahead unchanged it will put tourists off.
The new overheard electricity line, which will be in place by 2023, will run from Inverary to Crossaig. Six pylons will be installed through Tarbert with an average height of 172ft.
They’ll be visible on approach to the village, from the harbour and from Robert the Bruce’s Castle.
The new plans by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) were approved by the Scottish Government in July to replace the existing line which was installed in the 1950s.
Campaigners including Tarbert and Skipness Community Council are pressing SSEN to pursue an alternative route – one that doesn’t affect the scenery.
David McBride, convener of the community council told STV News: “We accept the upgrade of the line is necessary with the amount of wind power that is being produced in Kintyre.
“What we would like them to do is look again at the option of taking the lines much closer to the existing as this wouldn’t affect the village as much.”
He added: “From nearly every point in the village people are going to be able to see these pylons.
“It’s a very picturesque village and the community strongly feel that we really don’t want this.”
The Royal Castle of Tarbert is a scheduled monument of national importance due to the major role that Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, played in its reinforcement and enlargement.
Robert McPhail, a spokesman for the Tarbert Castle Trust, who own the landmark said it’s important the castle’s view is preserved.
He said: “Robert the Bruce strengthened and constructed most of the castle.
“It’s very important to this community and to the country it is preserved – we don’t want things that will spoil the outlook from the castle.
He added: “We get 40,000 visitors a year.”
Greg Clarke a spokesman for SSEN said in order to maintain a secure supply of electricity to the communities in Argyll, it’s “essential” that the replacement of the overhead line is carried out.
He said: “Throughout the development of the project we carried out extensive consultation with the local community and with other stakeholders.
“There were no statutory objections made.
“We do recognise the community have raised a number of concerns.
“We do have a condition that requires us to develop a landscape mitigation plan to try and minimise the impact at Tarbert.”
He added he’d like to “reassure” the public they are doing all the can to minimise the visual impact.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “The new line replaces and upgrades a line that is vital for supplying electricity to homes and businesses.
“The planning application was advertised and a consultation was held to allow the local council, members of the public and environmental bodies to have their say.
“Ministers struck a careful balance between the environmental impacts of the line and concerns of local communities against the long-term benefits of a more resilient electricity grid that allows the connection of further renewable energy and they took steps to reflect this in the conditions attached to the consent.”