Public consultations scheduled for West Highlands electricity line replacement

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Public consultation events over what has been described as one of the most significant energy investments in the West Highlands since power was first brought to the area in the 1950s are to be held in Glengarry, Glenelg and Fort Augustus this month.

News of the events come after SSEN Transmission this week announced plans to replace the existing electricity transmission power line which runs from Fort Augustus to Ardmore in the north of Skye.

The line was constructed in three distinct sections between 1956 and 1989 and is reaching the end of its operational life.

Its planned replacement is essential to maintain security of supply to homes and businesses along its route, as well as to the Western Isles, and will have a greater capacity to enable the connection of renewable energy looking to connect to the transmission network, supporting the transition to ‘net zero’ emissions.

Given the scale of the replacement project, SSEN intends to ‘future proof’ the replacement line to allow the connection of additional renewables to help meet government ‘net zero’ climate change targets.

The series of consultation events, which also includes sessions on Skye, are planned along the route of the line which will take place in the second half of March.

These events will present the preferred 1km wide route corridor proposed for the replacement line and seek feedback on this to help inform a more detailed route and alignment study.

The existing line consists of a combination of overhead wooden pole and steel lattice tower structures along its route.  To meet the required capacity of the replacement line, steel structures will be required from Fort Augustus to Edinbane on Skye, with wooden poles remaining from Edinbane to Ardmore.

In areas of particular sensitivity, undergrounding and subsea cables may be considered in short sections where they could address specific consenting issues, subject to environmental and engineering considerations.

As well as the conventional pylons, SSEN Transmission is also considering the use of alternative innovative steel structures that may result in reduced environmental and visual impacts.

Further public consultation will take place in the autumn to present the technology options proposed as part of the detailed preferred route consultation stage.

Project manager Euan Smith commented: ‘The replacement of the Fort Augustus to Skye line represents a major investment in the area, critical to maintain security of supply and support the transition to net zero emissions.’