Skye: Calls for public inquiry as £500m powerline plan challenged by council

A 100-mile line to feed Skye's green electricity to the mainland is essential to keep the lights on, according to SSEN.

Campaigners say plans for a new powerline on Skye should be the subject of a public inquiry.

SSEN Transmission’s proposal was rejected by Highland councillors last year because of concern about its impact.

Lawyers have told objectors the council’s response should have automatically triggered a PLI.

The island’s largely 1950s-built transmission line is nearing the end of its operational life.

A replacement 100-mile line to feed Skye’s green electricity to the mainland is essential to keep the lights on, according to SSEN.

Last November, councillors cited the potential impact of the £500m project on communities and the natural environment as reason to reject the planning application.

Lawyers have told them that should have triggered an automatic public inquiry.

SSEN say 100-mile line between Skye and mainland is vital to keep lights on

It is alleged that subsequent planning applications from SSEN have also breached the rules.

Andrew Robinson of the Skye Windfarm Information Group said: “It’s illegal to present separate planning applications when they should all be considered as one project, so the impact of the whole project should be considered together.

“So, we are arguing firstly that there should be a public inquiry as a result of the council’s objection last November to the line itself but also that SSEN are acting illegally because they’re salami-slicing their planning application.”

SSEN says its Skye powerline upgrade has “followed all relevant planning legislation” and “always presented all the main components collectively.”

It added: “We don’t believe a public inquiry is required.”

The Scottish Government said it “wouldn’t be appropriate to comment on a live case.”

Rural communities have been campaigning against SSEN's pylon plans

Skye’s landscape has been changing.

A plethora of wind turbines already built seems destined to grow, as part of the Scottish Government’s mission to cut carbon emissions.

Broadford and Strath Community Council chairwoman Rhona Coogan said: “It’s not unrealistic to think that this will make people leave the island. If you have an impact on your own business then, sadly, you have to go elsewhere for work.

“I am committed to working for the future generations of this island. I’m expecting a baby myself in a month and I want to preserve the rural, beautiful landscape of Skye and ensure that’s still a lifestyle that future generations can enjoy.”

Skye councillor John Finlayson said: “What’s really frustrating for many people is the time it’s taking the Scottish Government and the energy consents unit to make a decision about the overhead powerline because many locals think there is work already taking place that assumes that the consent is going to be given.”

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