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Council response to Beauly – Denny overhead transmission line go ahead (06/01/10)
The Highland Council has noted the decision by the Scottish Government to grant planning permission to Scottish Hydro-Electric Transmission Ltd to install an overhead electricity transmission line over 200 km from Beauly sub-station to Wharry Burn, near Dunblane.
The Council has been consistently supportive of the principle of such a development because it should help release the potential of Highland Renewable Energy Projects. As a Council we recognise the key economic importance of renewables to the Highland economy and the need for the supporting transmission infrastructure.
However, there is disappointment that recommendations made by the Council at the public inquiry have not been taken on board. The Council advocated that improvements – including undergrounding of cables and realignment of the route - be made of the transmission line at:-
Beauly - Eskadale
Cannich – Guiachan
River Speyside – Feagour Wood
West of the A889 – east of the A9 Sections
Councillor Ian Ross, Chairman of The Highland Council’s Planning Environment and Development Committee, said : “We have always recognised and supported the urgent need for the upgrade of this transmission line. It will be welcomed by the renewable energy industry and release the potential for an number of additional renewable energy projects. We made strong representations at the public enquiry for mitigation measures and it is very disappointing that these arguments would seem to have been set aside. There were opportunities to improve the quality of this project through some limited realignment and undergrounding.”
The decision allows for a major re-assessment of the sub-station network at the Balblair Sub Station (Condition 18) which the Council hopes will ensure an holistic assessment of all project improvements in this area on:- existing lines; the line just consented; and emerging projects including the additional line (on the existing pylons to Dounreay), the restringing of Beauly to Blackhillock line, etc. The requirement to underground the existing lines in this area may require additional infrastructure within the existing substation area and therefore additional landscape and amenity mitigation.
The Council will be happy to work with SPT and SHETL on this project, participating fully with the Environmental Liaison Group (Condition 6) and also the Tourism, Cultural Heritage and Community Liaison Group – the role of which remains to be set out.
There is also disappointment that some of the community benefit initiatives, including funding, are so limited. £50K for the National Park to assist with Laggan and Dalwhinnie (Condition 72) and a number of recreational facilities further south within Perth and Kinross (Funding of £75k) (Condition 73). Funding for similar initiatives around Ft Augustus, Cannich and Beauly would have been expected.