Pylon consultation is just a tick-box exercise, claim campaigners

Campaigners say No More Pylons in Dalmally, SSEN says the line would be around 1km from all properties in Dalmally village

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No More Pylons in Dalmally campaigners say the consultation over a route for a new overhead power line is just a ‘tick box exercise.’

They claim SSEN’s mind is already made up and that it has no interest in what the community wants.

Behaviour by the energy provider over the past three years also needs to be investigated by watchdog Ofgem, the campaign says.

‘The Covid crisis could not have come at a better time for SSE, it gave them the perfect opportunity not to engage in proper consultation with the residents of Dalmally. The community will be looking for a public enquiry into SSE’s planned route and their behaviour during the so-called consultation period,’ added a statement from the campaign team.

The statement comes as SSEN launches its latest online consultation on its preferred route for the new overhead line to the east of Dalmally.

By building a new sub-station at Creagh Dhubh, SSEN says it would avoid bringing more pylons and lines through the village.

Last year campaigners told The Oban Times that SSEN’s consultations over its plans for upgrading the Argyll Kintyre Transmission Network involving Dalmally were ‘not thought out’ and that a large proportion of the community missed out on having a say either because they had no internet connection or suffered inadequate broadband speeds.

SSEN says its preferred route now addresses a number of concerns that community members  raised in the past about the visual and cumulative impacts of connecting to the existing network infrastructure in Dalmally.

As suggested by the community, SSEN did look into the possibility of a route under Loch Awe but there were significant environmental challenges associated with that option, including pollution of the loch because of the risk of watercourses flooding.

But after representations from many residents and those in neighbouring communities, Glenorchy and Inishail Community Council is still completely opposed to the current SSEN reinforcement proposals.

Convenor John Kerr said the plans comprehensively ignore the obvious route for cabling via Glen Aray to Ardlui, which would avoid any interaction with Dalmally.

‘Our community council welcomes the opportunity for further consultation and sincerely hopes that on this occasion transparency will prevail with all comments taken into account. G&I CC will encourage as many people as possible to engage with the consultation process to make their feelings absolutely clear to SSEN, and ultimately Scottish Government ministers,’ said Mr Kerr.

The latest consultation, which starts on Monday July 12 and closes on Friday August 13, will include live online chat sessions in a bid to make the sessions as face-to-face interactive as possible. Online chat sessions will be held on Wednesday July 14, Thursday July 15 and Thursday July 29 from 10am to 1pm and 5pm to 7pm.

SSEN says it is aware that going online is not suitable for everyone so ‘when requested’ its team will also engage by email and telephone and paper copies of the consultation brochure can also be posted out.

As part of the consultation feedback is also being sought on a new project, as part of the wider scheme, to connecting the proposed new substation near Dalmally with a connection point on the Inveraray to Crossaig overhead line, replacing the existing 132kv overhead line.

To complete the Argyll and Kintyre 275kV Strategy, a number of substations will need to be upgraded, as well as four new substations built to the south of Inveraray.

A SSEN Transmission Spokesperson said the major upgrade was necessary to support UK and Scottish Government net zero emissions targets to help tackle the climate emergency.

‘We are committed to work with the community and wider stakeholders as we develop our proposals. Stakeholder feedback has already been instrumental in developing our proposals so far, particularly the routing of the Creag Dhubh to Dalmally 275kV Connection which will avoid the need to connect to the existing substation and overhead line in Dalmally.

‘We are keen to hear from as many people as possible on the three proposals and would encourage anyone who is interested in finding out more about our plans to come along to one of the virtual consultation sessions,’ added the spokesperson.

To find out more about this go to www.ssen-transmission.co.uk/projects/argyll-and-kintyre-275kv-strategy