THE minister of a picturesque Scottish church has hit out at the government for approving plans for a power line near a 1000-year-old site of worship.
The new line will see cables upgraded and more than 600 new pylons erected along a 130 mile stretch from Beauly to Denny.
But the Rev Stuart Fulton of Stirling’s Logie Kirk has accused government ministers of “bungling” their handling of the project.
He has criticised them for failing to insist that the cables are buried to protect communities and protect the “beautiful” landscapes.
He says his congregation of 600 were concerned that the 200ft pylons overlooking the church could impact on their health.
He added that the “blight on the landscape” could put off visitors to the site, which he says has a 1000 year history. In 2008 a gravestone dating to the 11th century was found at Logie Old Kirk, just a stone’s throw from Rev Fulton’s church.
The Church of Scotland, which is aware of the minister’s concerns, said it was aware of the landscape impact but believed renewable energy was better than coal or nuclear power.
Rev Ian Galloway, convener of the Church and Society council, said: “We are encouraging all congregations to measure and reduce their carbon footprint.
“The more congregations can do this, then there will be less need for new energy generation and all its associated impact.”
But Rev Fulton said the official line was a “naive” distortion of the subject.
He said: “Nobody in Logie would oppose renewable energy sources. This is about the siting of two pylons and to distort the two would be folly and is naive.
“We are against the present route of the pylons. The issue is about a site in Logie that has been of religious significance in Scotland since the 11th century. For 1000 years people have been coming here to find consolation, hope and peace and that peace is being shattered by ignorance and bullishness.”
The 440kV line was approved in January 2010 and will connect renewable power generated in the north of Scotland to the national grid.
The line will be built by ScottishPower and Scottish and Southern Energy and run from Beauly in Inverness-shire to Denny inFalkirk.
Councillors in Stirling last month rejected power company plans to paint pylons grey and plant more trees, calling them “inadequate and ineffective”.
Rev Fulton said ScottishPower had offered to remove a 14ft pylon in the church’s car park as a “concession” of the pylons being erected behind the building.
He said: “That’s not a concession. ScottishPower Said they’ll get used to the pylons but when you look at the size of the things there’s not getting used to them.”
A ScottishPower spokesman said: “At Logie Kirk we are proposing to remove existing overhead lines ad well as carrying out a range of planting and landscaping in the local vicinity.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Ministers have balanced the macro-economic need and benefits of the upgrade of the existing line and the visual and landscape impact at locations along the whole route. This has included three visual mitigation schemes, including one in theStirlingarea which ministers are currently considering.”