WAPA public meeting, Insch church Hall 7.30pm 27 February 2017
Approximately 40 attendees. It was felt the reduced number of attendees compared to recent local public meetings may have influenced by the deferment of SSE’s project in the new National Grid NOA (Network Options Assessment) report at the end of January.
Fergus McGhie introduced the meeting and presented a series of slides to update the audience of the current status of SSE’s Blackhillock (Keith) to Kintore 400kV OHL project. The slides will be posted to the WAPA websites.
Main points of the presentation were an abridged version of those previously presented at the last public meeting in Alford Public Hall on 23 January, with an update of the current situation post the publication of the latest NOA report.
The meeting was then opened to the floor for questions and ideas.
Questions & Answers
The following questions were asked, and answers given where possible, and ideas & suggestions offered:
- There is currently an ongoing public consultation on the Scottish Government’s planning process (deadline 4th April) and all local people were urged to write/email to the senior planning officers urging them to adopt a similar position with regard to a preference for undergrounding high voltage transmission cables, as recently adopted by the Welsh Assembly. Guidance notes will be posted on the WAPA website.
- There was a question regarding the three corridors initially described by SSE and how it was reduced to one by the time of the first public consultations. The process of selection of the ‘preferred’ central-southern corridor during the early briefings to the county councils in late 2015 was described and the apparent influence imparted on the selection by the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit.
It was also asked whether there had been any public consultation on the three corridors, to which the answer was ‘no, there was none’.
- There was a question of whether WAPA had given up on an HVAC OHL along the proposed new A96 trunk road and had completely gone for undergrounding any future new HV line. The reply was not exactly but undergrounding along the new road would be the preferred option given the degree of industrialisation (and wirescape) along the Inverurie-Kintore corridor.
- It was pointed out that with the proposed HVDC submarine cable between Peterhead and Hawthorn Pit on Tyneside given the go-ahead by National Grid, together with an upgraded OHL link between Blackhillock and Peterhead, SSE may be able to manage power flows from north Scotland to England with the current infrastructure and no new line to Kintore.
- Do WAPA have relative cost figures comparing OHL cabling vs undergrounding? It was stated from the floor that ballpark figures are available to enable rough comparisons, though hard figures would not be confirmed until the time of a formal planning application. WAPA representatives pointed out again that is one area where the group still lacks serious expertise. It was also pointed out that these large infrastructure projects have a history of significantly overunning the original cost estimates, eg. Beauly-Denny by 3x . Whereas undergrounding will save over the life-of-project costs with lower maintenance costs. The National Grid’s annual National Electricity Transmission System Performance Reports indicate that the differential costs between OHL’s and undergrounding have reduced to approximately 5x over life-of-project.