August 8, 2019

Windfarm rejection must put pylon plans on hold, say campaigners

Kathie Griffiths | The Oban Times | 08/08/19 |

Power giant SSE must put pylon plans for Dalmally on hold, say campaigners, now that Scottish ministers have turned down a new windfarm just 10 miles away on grounds it would spoil the view.

No More Pylons in Dalmally say the ministers’ decision that the 18 wind turbines would have significantly impacted North Argyll’s natural beauty and panoramic quality must now alter Scottish and Southern Energy’s position on wanting to put a new power line through Dalmally to Stronmilchan sub-station.

Campaign co-leader Julian Penney said: ‘Now that the windfarm has been knocked on the head, surely SSE needs to reassess exactly what its position is. Putting in an additional line with more pylons isn’t needed now. The turbines won’t be there.

‘SSE will probably come back and say there might be other power generating schemes out there but at the minute they’re just in the pipeline. SSE’s plans for another line have got to be put on hold.’

No More Pylons in Dalmally’s priority is protecting the community’s health although saving the area’s landscape is another of its concerns.

It wants to stop controversial plans by SSE’s network to put up 52 pylons as part of a North Argyll reinforcement project. Campaigners, backed by MSP Michael Russell, have said if the energy network wants new power lines out of Argyll, then they should go underground.

Argyll and Bute councillor Elaine Robertson said given the Scottish Government’s decision to refuse the windfarm at Upper Sonachan, substantially based on the visual aspect, she expected SSE ‘has taken cognisance of this result’. She added: ‘The proposed overground pylons are enormous and would be a totally unacceptable visual intrusion on this very beautiful scenic area.’

Anti-pylon campaigners are worried more electricity pulsing through any new pylons and existing Scottish Power-owned ones above their village school, shop and homes would add to electromagnetic radiation and damage people’s health.

SSE has been exploring underground and overhead options and aims to consult the community over route options again later this summer or early autumn. Final proposals are due to go to the government in 2020.

Argyll and Bute Council objected to plans for the windfarm at Upper Sonachan Forest back in November 2016 and it went to a public local inquiry one year later. Scottish ministers got the report from the inquiry on September 28 last year recommending planning permission should be rejected and they refused consent on May 24.

Although ministers agreed the windfarm would have provided some substantial benefits including meeting renewable energy targets, reducing greenhouse gases and possibly becoming community owned, the significant landscape and visual impacts would be unacceptable ‘based on the distinct landscape features and scenic quality of the area’, they decided.

The Upper Sonachan windfarm was not the sole driver for SSE’s North Argyll reinforcement project.

A spokesperson for SSE said: ‘The North Argyll reinforcement is required to facilitate the connection of renewable electricity generators from across the Argyll and Kintyre region. If the reinforcement proceeds, which ultimately remains subject to the progression of renewable generators, it will also strengthen the transmission system, improving network resilience for electricity users.

‘As a responsible developer and following feedback received, we continue to explore undergrounding options from the vicinity of the Duncan Ban MacIntyre monument to Dalmally switching station. All proposed overhead transmission infrastructure for the North Argyll reinforcement project will be a minimum distance of 100m from villages and properties in the area. We remain committed to keep the community and other interested parties fully updated as the project development continues and plan to hold further consultations later this year.’

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