SCOTTISH and Southern Electricity Networks Transmission (SSEN Transmission) has welcomed the approval of funding to be used for the removal of 12km of overhead transmission lines from the Cairngorms National Park.

Awarded by Ofgem, the investment comes as part of a scheme designed to protect scenic areas from the potentially harmful effects of electrical infrastructure.

A total of 46 transmission towers will be removed from the Cairngorms at two sections of overhead lines in two of the national park’s most popular sites, near the villages of Boat of Garten and Nethy Bridge.

Both circuits are to be replaced with underground cabling.

Work to remove the two overhead lines is expected to be completed by next year.

More than £31.9 million in investment is required to fund both schemes and is being provided as part of a £500m initiative administered by Ofgem.

The energy regulator’s initiative allows the three UK electricity transmission owners to bid for funding to mitigate the impact of historic energy infrastructure on land which has been given national park or national scenic area status.

It is hoped that with the electrical infrastructure removed, the natural scenic beauty of the Cairngorms will be further enhanced, building on the removal of more than 300 towers, covering a distance of around 90km, as part of the Beauly Denny project.

As well as the two Cairngorms schemes Ofgem has recently approved, SSEN Transmission is also managing several other engineering and landscaping proposals across its network region as part of its Vista (visual impact of Scottish transmission assets) project.

Euan Smith, who is leading the energy company’s project, said that the work in the Cairngorms will leave a “lasting legacy”.

He commented: “We are delighted that Ofgem has approved our funding request to remove an additional 46 transmission towers, covering a combined distance of 12km, from the Cairngorms National Park.

“Once complete, the removal of this additional infrastructure will leave a lasting legacy for current and future generations by improving the visual amenity within one of Scotland’s most precious landscapes.

Smith added: “We would like to thank all stakeholders who helped shape the development of our Cairngorm Vista schemes and we now look forward to progressing with these works, which we expect to complete by around 2020.”

SSEN Transmission is also managing similar projects in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, as well as in the Loch Tummel and Loch Rannoch national scenic areas.

The firm has invested more than £2.5 billion in the north of Scotland transmission system since April 2013, helping to almost double renewable energy capacity to 6GW.