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WATCH: Final pylon topples as part of £32m Cairngorms landscape improvement project

By Gavin Musgrove

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The final pylon comes crashing down to mark the end of the big money project in Strathspey.
The final pylon comes crashing down to mark the end of the big money project in Strathspey.

Three, two, one and its down.

SSEN Transmission has just toppled the final tower on its Cairngorms VISTA project today bringing to a close 18 months of work to help to restore the natural beauty of the area surrounding Nethy Bridge and Boat of Garten.

The latest tower to fall to the ground joins more than 300 towers SSEN Transmission has removed from the Cairngorms National Park as part of the Beauly-Denny project in 2017, covering a distance of over 90 kilometres.

Ahead of the final tower being felled, SSEN Transmission and their principal contractor Morgan Sindall Infrastructure have been working in the strath laying new underground cable from Docharn Woods to Nethy Bridge.

They have replacing a total of 12km of overhead line and 46 steel towers, originally built in the 1950s, on the stretch.

Project manager Johannes Smit said: “We work hard to find the right balance between providing a safe and secure supply of electricity, delivered in a cost-effective way, while doing all we can to minimise the impact on the landscape.

“We worked closely with local stakeholders to identify the most suitable locations to remove transmission infrastructure, progressing six locations in our network area, of which the Nethy Bridge and Boat of Garten project in the Cairngorms Nation Park is one.

“The project would not have been possible without the backing of the local community and I would like to thank them for their support at each stage of the project from the initial proposals, right through to construction.

“Everyone involved in the project has worked really hard over the last 18 months, overcoming some difficult weather conditions and tricky engineering challenges.

"It is great to see the final tower safely come down today, it is quite a sight to see. It also marks a job well done for all the team.”

A SSEN spokesperson said: "The Cairngorms National Park is one of Scotland’s busiest national parks receiving nearly two million visitors a year making these visual improvements to the natural landscape something that will be enjoyed by millions of visitors for years to come."

The toppling of the 46th and final tower also marks the completion of the first of six VISTA (Visual Impact of Scottish Transmission Assets) projects being progressed by SSEN Transmission.

The £31.9m project was funded as part of a £500m scheme administered by the energy regulator Ofgem.

The scheme allows the three GB electricity transmission owners to apply for funding to mitigate the impact of historic electricity infrastructure in national parks and National Scenic Areas.

Now the last tower is down the VISTA team will turn their focus to the next project.

They will be heading towards Loch Lomond in January to start work on the next VISTA project which will see the removal of 25 steel towers and 7.5 kilometres of overhead line from Derrydaroch to Crianlarich in Glen Falloch, and between Sloy Dam and Sloy Power Station, which will be replaced with underground cable.

Watch the last tower fall here

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