Keig Meeting 26 Oct 2016

84 people came to Keig Village Hall last night. Lord Malcolm Forbes welcomed everyone and invited Fergus McGhie and Bill Henderson of WAPA to present a series of slides to update the audience on the current status of SSE’s Blackhillock (Keith) to Kintore 400kV OHL (Overhead Line) project. The slides will be posted to the CLAMPA and WAPA websites (done).

Presentation slides (keig-v4a-red) – reduced file size and quality.

Questions and Answers

The following questions were asked, and answers given where possible, and ideas & suggestions offered:

  • Some confusion about the three corridors and the preferred choice of the Central vs Southern corridors. A: SSE has chosen its Central corridor for Beauly-Blackhillock, and Central corridor for most of Blackhillock-Kintore, switching to Southern corridor from about Insch southward, passing between Alford and Keig, and incorporating large swathe covering Tillyfourie, Sauchen, Monymusk, and Craigearn; finalling switching back to Central corridor running into Kintore substation at Leylodge. Suggested posting the annotated ‘extension area’ map on the website.
  • the A96 corridor is a development corridor and therefore more suited for a pylon line (two there already)
  • When will the route be announced? A: SSE will announce their actual route within a year (end 2017) but may be delayed. However, environmental survey work along possible route(s) has been ongoing since late 2015 and will carry on into 2017.
  • Statement from the floor: time to act to influence route is now. Must write to all politicians, including MEPs and local councillors. Local councillors within same political party will pass on background unhappiness and discontent to their senior party members and officials. Need to take overall view of the cumulative impact of all major projects
  • Very important to write “I object….” so letters get into ‘objections’ category, not ‘other’ (and thereby discounted).
  • Will there be guidance on the website for objection letters. A: yes, in bullet point format. Must try to avoid copying a formulaic letter, all of which will be treated as one letter.
  • One personal objection had been based on the lack of objectivity in the use of the Holford Rules in SSE’s publications (“shoddy input”). Noted that SSE states that Holford Rules are for guidance; however, objection letters should make a strong point about the application of the Rules in the Bennachie/Vale of Alford area.
  • There will be no mention of possible detrimental health effects as not proven and easily rebutted. However, there is growing concern and some evidence of impacts on health from high voltage AC overhead lines.
  • Influence your (constituency) politician. What about MEPs and local councillors? Give them earache!! [Note that Aberdeenshire Councillors may listen but not give an opinion until SSE formally consults them about the actual proposed route]
  • SSE’s plans were made at least two years ago since when the oil industry changes (and perhaps others) will have changed the basis for cost-benefit-analyses that SSE would have used to propose their solution to Ofgem. So a point of objection could be that SSE’s basis is out of date
  • Were there any lessons to be learned from the failed Beauly-Denny campaign with its 20,000 objections? Important to seek alignment of campaign groups along the line.
  • Are there other campaign groups up the line? A: very difficult to identify other groups, hence need to maximise publicity. Comment from SSE at Holyrood meeting that there has been very little comment from Beauly end of corridor, but a lot from the Kintore end (!).
  • Somebody commented from the floor that local primary school students had received a leaflet about the need for the Reinforcement but there was no mention of the area affected.
  • Several comments about local ignorance of the proposed project and of the public meetings. Very likely that many more in the area are still ignorant. Need more flyers, banners etc. advertising the campaign and the meetings.
  • Has there been any interaction with the A96 Dualling campaign? A: only indirectly via Baillies of Bennachie, who are actively campaigning to keep the A96 route well away from the hill and had promised to post comment about the CLAMPA campaign in their Save Bennachie (but didn’t!). CLAMPA have an ongoing discussion with NTS.
  • How to communicate with more people – use banners and local radio (in hand with varying results) A: Lynne Scott answered with account of all the letters, emails, etc. sent to radio, P&J, politicians. All invited to attend public meetings, but there has been poor response from some. Need access to major press (The Scotsman, The Herald).
  • Approach Alex Salmond who is highly influential in government circles. Noted and will contact him.
  • Having two groups, WAPA and CLAMPA, duplicates effort and is potentially confusing. Think about just having one group (WAPA). Also potential confusion about WAPA’s objectives: alternative OHL down the A96 corridor? undergrounding? DC technology? Need to choose and focus on preferred strategy.
  • Put SSE’s corridor map in local shops.
  • Approach the Forestry Commission for information – they deal a lot with wind farms and power line accesses. A: no we haven’t so far, will consider.
  • Is there access to expertise on alternative technologies/solutions, eg. oil company personnel, particularly in the current industry downturn? A: not as such, but important to note that since Blackhillock firmed up as the important node for North East future projects, circumstances have changed significantly in the region, which must impact project costings.
  • Put out request on Facebook etc for anyone who can give us email addresses for Ofgem people.
  • What about approaching the Green Party – the SNP need them?
  • For effective objections to politicians use both factual comments and emotive/heartfelt comments.

Voluntary donations totalled £300. Many many thanks to all contributors. This will help pay for more leaflets, banners, hall hire, website and other expenses that promote everyone’s efforts to object.

Conclusions: Object to MSP Alexander Burnett (Alexander.Burnett.msp@parliament.scot) or MP Alex Salmond (alex.salmond.mp@parliament.uk).  Please ask them to influence Ofgem and SSE plc not to ruin unspoiled rural Aberdeenshire with monstrous huge pylons like those on the new Beauly-Denny power line. Alternatives are: (a) bury cables in loop via North Sea directly to the consumer in the south (fewer transmission losses), (b) upgrade  the two existing overhead pylon lines from Keith to the central belt (cheaper). This will avoid wrecking our heritage and our tourist business yet keep aspirations alive that Scotland is leading the renewables revolution in Europe.

Join WAPA – send an email to act@wapa.org.uk. You can offer help, send photos and get updated on the latest developments.

Find us on Facebook under WAPA – you can also join the Facebook group.

West Aberdeenshire Pylon Action