However, schemes connecting Shetland and the Western Isles to the mainland will have to wait, along with a plan to transmit between Kintyre and Hunterston.

The transmission companies have put forward proposals for 20 investment projects spread over the next ten years totalling some £5bn. If Ofgem’s proposals are accepted it would allow them to spend the first 20% and recoup their costs through transmission charges to the generators and from consumers.

Ofgem chief executive Alistair Buchanan said: “Ofgem has put forward a plan that could inject up to £1bn into national electricity grid investment. This is needed to handle the growth in wind power and other renewable generation that is arising from Britain’s drive to curb climate changing emissions.”

Some 70% of the proposed expenditure is targeted at Scottish projects, which is good news for the likes of Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission Ltd, which plans to build a new transmission line between Dounreay and Beauly, and could transmit power from wave/tidal power projects in the Pentland Firth.

Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy said: “It’s full steam ahead for the Pentland Firth, which can power up to 500,000 homes. We are now on track to have the biggest wave and tidal project in the world on our doorstep”

Meanwhile, consultation has started on proposals for two 300mw-600mw hydro-electric pumped storage schemes in the Great Glen that could increase Scotland’s hydro capacity by more than 70%.

SSE Generation Ltd, the wholly owned generation business of Scottish and Southern Energy, confirmed yesterday that the sites are at Balmacaan situated to the north east of Invermoriston above Loch Ness, and Coire Glas, situated to the south west of Laggan and north west of Loch Lochy.