I’m not so sure. Most of us, if asked, would probably prefer not to have them at the end of our road. But once they’re there, how many of us really notice them?

Perhaps I’m singularly unobservant, but it seems I don’t notice them. Last year, I did an orienteering course with friends on our local hills. One particular waypoint we were looking for was near a pylon. I know where that is, I thought confidently, and off we all went.

But the waymarker wasn’t there. I checked the map for the umpteenth time: here we were, at the pylon, the only one I knew of in this part of the hills.

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Except – whoops – it turned out it wasn’t the only pylon. A few hundred metres away, we suddenly spotted another one rising above the Scots pines. For reasons that are admittedly hard to explain, I’d never noticed it on my numerous tramps through the area.

What did this show, apart from how rubbish my map reading was? Perhaps that I was so used to these massive structures on this hillside that they’d become sort of invisible.

It’s natural, if you treasure your rural view, to be dismayed, not to say outraged, by the thought of large manmade structures being plonked in your eyeline. Anyone living with unspoilt views would feel that way.

But is there the possibility that one might actually get used to pylons? Is it really worth billions being added to our collective energy bills in order to reroute pylon networks offshore or underground, as groups of English Tory MPs are demanding?

It’s not news that pylons provoke strong feelings – the Beauly-Denny pipeline, first mooted over 20 years ago, prompted more than 17,000 objections and was delayed many years.

But the issue of pylons has gathered a fresh head of steam as new networks have been proposed around the UK to carry much-needed renewable electricity from remote areas into large population centres.

Tory MP Andrew Bowie’s West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine constituency is one area where feelings run high about pylons. If you drive along the A93 west of Aberdeen, you see posters lashed to gates and telegraph poles decrying the “monster” structures. Mr Bowie has had numerous meetings with pylon campaigners, apparently, and has now been relieved of his ministerial responsibilities for, er, pylons. It seems he had raised the issue of a potential conflict of interest himself.

The Herald: Andrew BowieAndrew Bowie (Image: free)

You can understand people’s anxieties about pylons. Residents of rural Kincardineshire have expressed concern about living close to substations and about damage to tourism in an area made famous by Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song. Put the cables offshore, some campaigners say, or bury them underground. Don’t spoil our countryside.

Now there’s a way through conflicts like this. Energy companies need to talk to communities from the drawing board stage and involve them in the process of deciding the pylon route. There needs to be a process of co-design.

That hasn’t tended to happen. Instead, communities are left to respond to proposals, some of which cause deep alarm.

Energy companies need to be realistic about the impact these changes have on what are often small communities and be prepared to be flexible in response to people’s concerns. Here and there, in short sections, perhaps it is even appropriate to take a cable underground, as has been done in Skye and other places of iconic natural beauty.

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In the north east, campaigners have won some changes. SSEN say they’ll move a substation further away from Grassic Gibbon’s childhood home and overhead lines away from the town of Forfar. A route change will take the pylons further away from Peterculter, Westhill and Loch Skene.

But communities have to be realistic too. A proposed line of pylons in East Anglia has prompted a large group of local Tories to demand the electrical cables be conveyed offshore instead for most of its route. The National Grid says that would cost £3bn more. Where would that £3bn come from except from people’s energy bills?

Calls have been made in Scotland to bury long sections of cable, but SSEN warn it’s five times more expensive to underground cables, with the costs being passed on to electricity consumers.

Would it be fair for people to pay an undergrounding premium on their energy bills in places miles from these routes that get no benefit from that extra expense? That feels like a hard argument to sell.

There are also of course pressing economic and environmental reasons to get these power lines built, to help turn the dream of a renewables powerhouse in northern Scotland into reality. The cabling is supporting jobs and businesses in rural areas, and, crucially, helping the UK meet its climate targets and improve energy security.

But that doesn’t cut much ice with a certain brand of politician. Pylons being built through the shires to convey renewable energy into the grid is just the sort of thing to get certain Tories in a froth of anger. Pylons, in short, are ripe for the culture wars. Where the phasing out of petrol cars and low emissions zones came first, becoming lightning rods for anger with progressive environmental policies, will pylons follow?

That former Home Secretary Priti Patel, who famously danced with Nigel Farage at the Tory conference, and Kemi Badenoch, a former member of Liz Truss’s cabinet, are at the forefront of efforts to oppose new pylons, perhaps tells you something.

The Herald: Kemi BadenochKemi Badenoch (Image: PA)

Labour are promising to build pylons quicky. They promise to connect farmers and businesses that generate renewable energy into the National Grid in “months” rather than years (the UK has the longest grid connection waits in Europe at present).

It’s a bold pledge but Labour’s can-do attitude is refreshing. This needn’t become yet another polarised issue. There’s a way through here, in the largely deserted middle ground. There are signs that campaigners and energy companies are already falteringly showing the way. Accommodations can be reached. With dialogue, their impact can be minimised.

We’d all rather not have them, pylons, but we need them. Are they really worth going to war over?