Moving ohm: Tycoon who fought super-pylons sells up

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A TYCOON who failed to stop controversial super-pylons being built near his multi-million pound luxury island estate is selling the retreat.

Canadian millionaire Brendan Cloustan, a close friend of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, has put his secluded Highland hideaway Eilean Aigas on the market for offers over £15 million.

The 480-acre retreat on an island in the River Beauly, in Inverness-shire, includes a massive secluded mansion which he has spent millions redeveloping.

The former telecoms executive, who bought the property in 2003, was vociferous in a campaign against a string of 600 giant pylons, each reaching more than 200ft in height, being constructed from Beauly to Denny.

He said the decision to allow the power line to go ahead by the Scottish Government was partly behind his decision to sell, although not the main reason.

He said: “I have decided to sell Eilean Aigas because my wife and I have found a new property development project in Guernsey. We love Inverness-shire and have made wonderful friends here, so we’ll miss many things about our life in the Highlands.”

When he purchased the property nine years ago, it cost in the region of £3 million and covered 60 acres.

A spokesman for Mr Cloustan said the millionaire had completed his project in redeveloping the estate, adding: “Of course, the power line has had something to do with it, but his primary reason for selling up and moving on is to start on the new development project.

“Mr Cloustan has spent a lot of time and money on rebuilding the original building, buying additional parcels of land to increase the size of the estate and building a new house on the island.”

He said the total cost of the project was around £20m.

Mr Cloustan was opposed to the plans by Scottish & Southern Energy to install a 400kV overhead electricity transmission line to replace an existing 132kV overhead line.

He joined campaigners in calling for the whole 137-mile power line, which is costing £600m and will connect renewable energy projects to the National Grid, to be put underground.

The project was given the go-ahead by the Scottish Government and is currently under construction, with the first 200ft tower being erected earlier this year to the south-east of Beauly, near to his mansion home.

SSE bought a strip of the millionaire’s land at Eskadale, near Kiltarlity, under a compulsory purchase order to allow it to widen a road for traffic.

Mr Clouston, a non-executive director of Wireless Infrastructure Group, had previously spent 15 years at Tele-Communications Inc, including six years as chief operating officer.

He and his wife Judy moved to Britain 11 years ago and bought a mansion in Dorset. They later bought Eilean Aigas, once rented by Scots author Compton McKenzie.

Ran Morgan, partner at selling agents Knight Frank, said: “It’s a truly jaw-dropping house. People will be talking about it in 200 years’ time.

“It could be open to the public. The main house has eight bedrooms and a fabulous cinema room.

“The architecture inside is incredible, it has amazing plaster work.”