March 20, 2015

Campaigners still have questions over Highland substation plans

By Jane Candlish | The Press and Journal | 20 March 2015 |

A campaign group fighting to protect a scenic glen south of Inverness have welcomed proposals to change the site of a proposed substation in the area.

But Save Strathdearn say they still have concerns about the planned access route to the site near Tomatin.

Earlier this week, Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission (Shet) Ltd confirmed that they have changed their preferred site after opposition to their original site.

The new site is higher up the hill and will be hidden among trees.

Campaigners from Save Strathdearn said they were “relieved” that the site had been changed.

They held an open forum event with Shet staff on Tuesday during a drop-in exhibition in Tomatin.

Pat Wells, the campaign co-ordinator, said that while the event allowed people to hear answers from Shet, many felt that they were not being given all the facts.

She said: “We are faced with piecemeal developments associated with wind energy which cumulatively will have a massive impact on the area’s landscape and the lives of residents as more and more turbines, powerlines, poles and pylons are constructed around Strathdearn.”

Mrs Wells added: “Unfortunately our concerns are only partly assuaged because access to the site remains to be satisfactorily resolved. It is disappointing that this issue could not have been dealt with concurrently with the preferred option for the substation site and it only adds to people’s anxiety that there are other agendas at work.

“There is very strong opposition to Shet’s proposed access through Tomatin village and along the single-track glen road. It has been made very clear to Shet since the proposal for a substation was made public in 2013 that use of the village and glen roads for access is unacceptable to local people including residents along the glen and to the thousands of visitors who consider the existing road part of the charm of this wild glen.”

“We require a cast-iron guarantee from Shet and a condition of planning from Highland Council that all substation construction and service traffic must use the Farr wind farm haul road which leaves the A9 just south of the dual carriageway at Alltnaslannach.”

A Shet spokeswoman said last night that the company was specifically posing questions about the access route in their ongoing consultation.

She said there was a mixture of views among the community, adding that the company wished to ascertain opinions to each option before carrying out further surveys.

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