There are fresh claims that the controversial public inquiry into plans for doubling the size of many pylons between Beauly and Denny is a sham, now further compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) have been issued for sites along the route.
Power giant Scottish and Southern Energy insisted yesterday that it was playing by the Scottish Government’s rules while objectors argued that the move was pre-empting the outcome of a public hearing due to run until December.
Notices have been advertised this week of CPOs at locations by the proposed extension to the Balblair substation near Beauly, a pivotal link between the plethora of windfarms being built across the Highlands and the national grid.
Cameron Gibson of Pylon Pressure said: “It’s lamentable that they’re allowed to build up their land-bank in this way because there is a possibility that they don’t need to extend Balblair. But they’re pushing ahead with CPOs very prematurely because the recommendation has not gone to the minister.
“This pre-judges the inquiry because it makes the assumption that it goes ahead, therefore we’ll have the CPOs as part of it. It should not form any part of what goes to the minister.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “This is standard practice and in no way prejudges the outcome of the public inquiry. The inquiry will hold a specific session on compulsory purchase orders next year to allow all comments and representations to be heard.”
Faced with the same accusation that the issuing of CPOs suggested the inquiry was done and dusted in Scottish and Southern Energy’s favour, a spokeswoman for the developer said: “We are endeavouring to meet the timescales that were set down by the (former) Scottish Executive and that was to programme any hearings required in relation to these orders within the public inquiry itself.
“There’s no attempt to pre-judge the outcome of the inquiry and if the (public inquiry) reporters decide to recommend to Scottish ministers that the orders should be confirmed it would be likely that would happen before the outcome of the inquiry is known.”
Around 18,000 people have lodged objections against SSE’s plans. The public inquiry began in February. The first CPOs surfaced four weeks later. It is understood that at least 160 such orders are being issued to facilitate the £320million replacement line.
8 November 2007
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