Ancient Glengarry woods threatened by new power project, say campaigners

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Part of Glengarry Pinewood, one of only 84 ancient Caledonian pinewood remnants left in Scotland, is threatened by infrastructure works associated with the proposed Coire Glas power project, according to environmental organisations.

Woodland Trust Scotland and Trees for Life have now jointly raised objections to the proposed construction of the new 400kV overhead line and the siting of the proposed Coire Glas 400kV switching station on the grounds of potential significant impact to ancient woodland.

Based on their assessment, at least five ancient woodlands will be within the preferred route path, which they say is likely to lead to direct loss and removal of these irreplaceable habitats.

An ambitious forest restoration programme has been undertaken for 30 years with public funding, but the proposed development, say the groups, will result in a significant area of the restored forest being felled causing less connectivity within the wider forest, reducing its resilience to climate change.

In their joint statement to power company SSEN, Nicole Hillier (Woodland Trust Scotland) and Alan McDonnell (Trees for Life), said a number of woodlands designated on the Ancient Woodland Inventory (AWI), including Glengarry Pinewood, which is also listed on the Caledonian Pinewood Inventory, are under threat from the scheme.

They added: ‘The wider woodland is managed by Forestry and Land Scotland for Scottish ministers on behalf of the people of Scotland; an ambitious forest restoration programme has been undertaken for 30 years with public funding.

‘The proposed development will result in a significant area of the restored forest being felled causing less connectivity within the wider forest, reducing its resilience to climate change.

‘We consider that the preferred route must avoid all areas of woodland designated on the AWI. Where existing infrastructure is located within ancient woodland, we would request that existing pathways are followed wherever possible to reduce the need for additional ancient woodland removal to facilitate the project.

‘Where the route is in close proximity, a buffer zone of at least 30 metres should be
maintained between all areas of ancient woodland and the scheme. This will help to avoid root damage to boundary trees and to allow for the effect of dust, light and noise pollution during construction and operation.

‘Ancient woodlands are irreplaceable habitats that must be protected from damage, loss and deterioration. It is imperative that any new development does not diminish these precious sites and that every possible measure is explored to prevent adverse impact.’