Villagers united in fight against plan for pylons and power lines
THERE is universal opposition to a ‘draconian’ plan to drive large pylons through Dalmally and Stronmilchan without any community benefit, Glenorchy and Innishail Community Council has argued in a consultation.
Scottish and Southern Energy Networks (SSEN) has identified two potential sites above Cladich and Upper Sonachan for a new North Argyll substation, to enable renewable energy projects to connect to the electricity network, and convert voltage from 132kV to 275kV.
The energy supplier is also proposing to upgrade its overhead line between the proposed North Argyll and existing Taynuilt substations, and create a new 275kV overhead line, with towers 40m to 55m tall, connecting the North Argyll substation to the existing one in Dalmally.
According to SSEN’s North Argyll project booklet the company is also investigating potential underground cable sections.
Glenorchy and Innishail Community Council (G&ICC) secretary John Kerr responded to the consultation, which closed on December 9, on behalf of the council, to say all 25 local residents at the November meeting in Dalmally Community Centre ‘ vehemently’ rejected the proposed route ‘ bringing large pylons through Dalmally and Stronmilchan’, and that G&ICC ‘ will also represent this view at every opportunity’.
The community council, he continued, ‘is frankly amazed SSEN should be adopting this 1960s draconian style of driving large-scale industrial infrastructure straight through the heart of a rural community which will not benefit in any way whatsoever, when quite plainly there are a number of less sensitive options.
‘SSEN must understand that the existing industrial infrastructure that has been imposed upon the community in the past is hated, and every opportunity will be taken to lessen its impact. The residents of Dalmally will not sleepwalk into accepting a proposal for which the main concern is mapping and cost to the developer.
‘Apart from the sheer pleasure of living in an area already designated as of “outstanding natural beauty”, the community relies on tourism, and detrimental changes to visual impact will also reverse economic growth. There are great concerns over issues affecting health and wellbeing, particularly among our young people.
‘We urge SSEN to give serious consideration of our community’s views and develop a less confrontational approach when finding a solution. At the very least we are looking for the undergrounding of transmission lines close to any settlement or isolated properties.’
At its January meeting, Mr Kerr said SSEN acknowledged ‘the community’s complete opposition to its preferred route for new overhead transmission lines’, and called for the line to go underground, as well as a Q&A evening session with SSEN.
Responding to residents’ concerns, SSEN’s lead project manager Derek Hearns, told The
Oban Times: ‘As the owner of the electricity transmission network in Argyll, we are required by our licence to provide the capacity that is needed in response to renewable generators in the region who are requesting a connection to the transmission network.
‘ We are still in the early development stages of the project and, as a responsible developer, we are fully committed to work closely with the local community as our plans develop to ensure that throughout the development process, we are basing our proposals on a balance between environmental, technical and economic considerations and, where possible, we will do all we can to address any concerns or issues that are raised by the local community.’
A transmission station in Kintyre at Crossaig, left, and the options for the overhead line route.