THE public are being invited to comment on plans for an electricity substation on moorland above Bonar Bridge.
The proposal is part of an upgrade of power lines carrying "green" electricity between Dounreay in Caithness and Beauly in Inverness-shire and involves a site at Meall Mor, on the edge of a forestry plantation near Loch Buidhe.
Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc (SHE Transmission) has submitted plans for the 275/132kV substation to allow increasing quantities of onshore and offshore renewable energy to be transmitted from the north to centres of demand.
Local communities were involved in a site selection process which began in spring 2011 and public exhibitions were held in November 2011 and June 2012 to inform local communities about progress with the development of plans and to receive their feedback.
Following the submission of a planning application, there will now be a statutory consultation period during which members of the public can make formal representations to the Highland Council.
The time allowed for comments has been extended to allow for the holiday period and will run until January 31, 2013.
John Henderson, SHE Transmission’s project manager for the new substation, said: "This work is already bringing a significant number of jobs to the Highlands as well as supporting the area’s growing renewable energy sector.
"The proposed substation at Loch Buidhe would provide an additional reinforcement of the existing 275kV and 132kV circuits which run between Dounreay and Beauly.
"As well as making new connections possible, this will allow electricity to be transmitted more efficiently and improve the resilience of the network as a whole."
Meanwhile, he thanked local people from around the Kyle of Sutherland who worked with SHE in the site selection process in early 2011 through to the preparation of the detailed plans.
Said Mr Henderson: "By attending public exhibitions and responding to our consultation, they have enabled us to consider a wide range of issues and develop proposals which we hope they will find acceptable,
"We will continue to keep in touch with residents in the months ahead to answer any questions they may have. If consent is granted, we are committed to working with local communities throughout the construction process to make sure that any disruption caused by our work is kept to a minimum and that the potential economic benefits are realised."