Galloway MP Richard Arkless said this week that he is delighted that Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN) ‘have listened to the concerns raised by local people and significantly changed their plans’.
In June 2015, SPEN unveiled plans to upgrade the electricity transmission system with a new 109 mile pylon route consisting of 50m high pylons. An extensive consultation exercise followed and over 1600 written responses were submitted by local people to SPEN highlighting their concerns about the environmental and visual impact that the new power line would cause.
SPEN then undertook a further review of its proposals, which included analysing the impact of UK Government changes to subsidy arrangements for onshore windfarms. This review also considered the future mix of power generation in Scotland and plans for the development of the wider electricity transmission network.
The revised proposals suggest a ‘Reduced Scheme’ consisting of new 132kV transmission infrastructure between Kendoon and Tongland as the preferred option. The new infrastructure will now consist of approximately 46km of new towers, with a reduced height of around 30m. As part of the proposals, 89km of existing 132kV towers with a height of around 25m will be permanently removed.
Commenting on the revised plans, Richard Arkless said: “This dramatic change in plans is very welcome and my constituents will be hugely relieved that SPEN have listened to their concerns and acted accordingly. It is not often that large organisations like SPEN scale back such substantial projects at the request of local people and I commend than for their action in this regard.
“Credit must be given to Dr Alan Jones who as Chairman of Dumgal Against Pylons (DGAP), who together with the rest of his team, has worked tirelessly for many months to highlight the inherent problems with SPEN’s initial proposals. Had Alan not made the case so eloquently for an alternative be found, we may not have had such a positive outcome.”
Dr Jones said that he was ‘delighted that Scottish Power has listened to the concerns of residents, Community Councils, Dumfries and Galloway Council, elected representatives and the many organisations which exist to protect Scotland’s unique and wonderful environment’.
He went on to say: “SPEN have taken into account recent changes in UK energy policy, which together with the application of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s sensible and sensitive planning policies, are likely to reduce the overall scale of onshore wind power development in the region.
“Richard has given his unqualified backing to our campaign to persuade Scottish Power that a more sensitive solution is needed to preserve Dumfries & Galloway’s unique and wonderful environment, and to protect the region’s growing tourism industry.
“Richard set up a meeting for us in Westminster, with Angus McNeil, MP, Chair of the Energy Select Committee. This introduction led to DGAP gaining a meeting with Frank Mitchell, CEO of Scottish Power Energy Networks, later this month where we will have an opportunity to learn more about SPEN’s revised proposal.
“We hope this meeting will lead to an on-going dialogue with Scottish Power - we want them to recognise we are trying to work with them for the good of the region.”
Richard Arkless added: “The considerable changes SPEN have made to their proposals is wonderful example of what can be achieved when residents, councils and elected representatives work together with a common purpose.
“When a more practical approach is adopted, when politicians like myself can give grass roots campaigners a louder voice at a higher level, very positive changes can be achieved for the benefit everyone.”