Ministers expected to approve 137-mile line to connect renewables to national grid despite 18,000 objections

Plans for a line of 600 massive electricity pylons between the Highlands and central Scotland are set to go ahead despite concerns over their impact on the landscape.

The pylons, up to 200ft tall, would carry a new, 400kV power line to replace the existing 132kV line, in order to connect renewable power schemes in the Highlands to the national grid.

The Scottish government is expected to give its approval to the scheme, despite more than 18,000 objections being made against the £400m project.

Supporters argue that the scheme is needed to meet the government's green energy target to meet 50% of Scotland's energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.

However, environmentalists fear that the line, which passes through the Cairngorms National Park, will damage the landscape.

The 137-mile power line would run from Beauly, west of Inverness, to Denny, near Falkirk.

A new substation would be built at Denny and the substation at Beauly, which handles power from hydroelectric schemes, would be expanded and linked to a new cable carrying electricity from wind farms on the Western Isles.

Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) is behind the project through its licensed transmission company, Scottish Hydro-Electric Transmission, and SP Transmission is also involved.