Vil­lagers united in fight against plan for py­lons and power lines

The Oban Times - - NEWS - SANDY NEIL sneil@oban­

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.

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