Campaigners take fight against SSEN £20bn pylon plan to Holyrood

Campaigners say SSEN are 'treating people terribly', but the company said it is working with communities to shape plans.

Campaigners take fight against SSEN’s £20bn pylon plan across north east and Highlands to Holyrood STV News

Campaigners against plans to put new electricity pylons across the north east and Highlands have taken their fight to Holyrood.

On Thursday, campaigners gathered outside the Scottish Parliament to make their views known over £20bn proposals made by SSEN Transmission to run new overhead power lines from Angus to Spittal in Caithness.

New lines would be carried on pylons at least a third taller than those on the existing network and would carry power due to be generated from new wind farms to meet net zero targets.

Farmers previously said new structures would damage their livelihoods and the landscape.

Protesters told STV News that the company is “bulldozing” its way through the north east of Scotland with their plans.

Tracy Smith of Save Our MearnsSTV News

Tracy Smith, of Save Our Mearns, said: “We’re here to protest against the treatment of SSEN. They’re bulldozing through the north east of Scotland. They’re treating people terribly and it can’t be allowed.

“I think the government should be listening to us. These changes are really important and they just won’t be getting votes if they let SSEN railroad through our countryside.”

Dan Bailey, of Better Cable Route (Strathpeffer & Contin), said: “The only way to come to a better cable route is to sit down around a table with all the affected stakeholders, the communities, the landowners, the policy makers and the power company.

“So we can’t be prescriptive at this stage about an alternative route, but we know that alternatives in our area are possible.”

Dan Bailey of Better Cable Route (Strathpeffer & Contin)STV News

The Scottish Government said their concerns should be listened to and that investment in the grid is important for the country’s renewable goals.

SSEN Transmission said it was working with communities to shape the plans.

An SSEN Transmission spokesperson said: “To help deliver UK and Scottish Government energy security and net zero targets, we have been tasked with delivering a series of critical national electricity transmission infrastructure projects across our operating area in the north of Scotland, which are part of a wider upgrade of the transmission network across Great Britian. These investments are key to deliver against our national endeavour for a cleaner, more secure and affordable energy system for future generations.

“As a stakeholder-led business, community consultation is a crucial stage of our project development process and for the Kintore-Tealing 400kV project, we continue to consult extensively with impacted local communities, and that consultation has already seen some significant changes made to the projects.

“Responding to feedback received from the first round of consultation in summer 2023 we relocated the previously proposed Fiddes 400kV substation to a new site at Fetteresso Forest (Hurlie). And today, after the second consultation round that took place in March, we have announced that we will be actively considering new overhead line alignments that have been proposed by community representatives and landowners, specifically where the overhead line passes Careston, Drumoak and Echt.

“We would like to thank everyone who has kindly taken the time to attend any of our consultation events so far, and those who have provided written feedback.

“We’re continuing to assess all feedback received, which will be carefully considered to help inform the ongoing development of our projects, and a further update will be provided in advance of our next overhead line alignment consultations, which will take place later this year.”

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