Plans – Better Alternatives Exist (see below)
This page is of historical interest only in view of SSE’s decision to wind its project down (March 2017).
In 2015 and 2016 SSE plc planned to build an entirely new 400 kV overhead power line with huge pylons averaging 50m high from Keith to Kintore. This would have been one of the highest capacity lines in Scotland (details on SSE’s website). The new line would be working by 2024.
Need for this new line? In short, by 2024 a huge amount of additional wind-generated power will be channelled to Blackhillock, near Keith, Aberdeenshire. This power will come from Shetland, Orkney, North of Scotland and especially from the Moray Firth.
SSE argued that all this new power arriving at Blackhillock could overwhelm the existing two 275 kV lines south. In March 2016 National Grid, who recommend annually to Ofgem what new power lines will be needed, specified a new 2 GW (that’s pretty high capacity) submarine cable from Peterhead to North of England and upgrading one of the two 275 kV lines south. They also recommended an entirely new 400 kV line from Beauly to Kintore – but via Aberlour (which is not what SSE are planning, which is via Keith).
SSE closed their public consultation about their ‘preferred corridor’ for this new 400 kV line on 6 May 2016. On 1 Nov 2016 SSE reported their reasons for selecting this corridor. On 30 January 2017 National Grid recommended that this project not proceed. SSE have accepted that – for this year the project has wound down.
The next stage would have been that SSE would take a year to tell us what detailed route they’ve chosen. They would then take two more years to carry out Environmental Impact Assessments and finally submit their plans to the Scottish Government for approval as a “National Development”. Aberdeenshire Council could object then and, if they wish to commit the funds, call for an Enquiry. The Scottish Government’s reporter (lawyer) would preside/decide at any Enquiry.
Better Alternatives (than affecting existing unspoiled areas)
WAPA argued that there were better alternatives than the option that SSE had come forward with.
1. Double the capacity of the new submarine cable from Peterhead to England (which is where all this new power is needed, and not in Kintore). Laying two cables is not much more than one cable – and substations at either end need not be twice as costly.
2. Combine new power lines with the new dualled A96 which will go Inverness – Keith – Kintore. Bury the lines as the dualled road is constructed. Two major infrastructure projects – surely Scotland can get its act together and provide minimum environmental disruption?
3. If the above are not possible, use the existing pylon corridor from Keith to Kintore. Strengthen or build within or nearby – this is corridor is shorter, lower cost and goes through less sensitive environment according to SSE’s own special research.
How to Object (not necessary unless SSE re-start the project)
1. Send email or letter to your MSP and MP (see list of key contacts)
Tell them why building huge pylons in unspoiled landscape through unspoiled rural areas of West Aberdeenshire is just plain wrong. 50m pylons will be seen for miles. Bennachie is a Special Landscape Area in Aberdeenshire’s 2016 Plan. SSE themselves say that the Howe of Alford is high sensitivity area.
2. Object to SSE’s project manager, Greig Taylor.
3. Join WAPA – send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can offer help, send photos and get updated on the latest developments. Find us on Facebook under WAPA – you can join the Facebook group. Further voluntary donations would be welcomed.