The plans by Scottish Power to run overhead power lines through Ayrshire and Galloway will be decided by the Scottish Government and not the local authorities.
At the Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee meeting of Dumfries and Galloway Council on 10 November, councillors considered their programme of response to the plans.
The project involves the proposals by Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN) for the development and provision of new overhead power lines from Ayrshire, through Dumfries and Galloway and beyond, into Cumbria, and from Kendoon, through Glenlee to Tongland.
The project would also allow for the removal of approximately 130km of existing tower lines from the region, allowing for the replacement of some of the existing aging infrastructure and will allow for increased capacity.
The details of the project are still to be worked up by SPEN over the next three years, following an initial phase of public consultation earlier this summer.
In the initial recommendation to the committee, members were asked to consider the proposed council response programme to the SPEN Strategic Reinforcement Project and agree that the Planning Applications Committee should consider and provide comments on the second and third rounds of the public consultation. This was agreed and will still go ahead, but members felt that earlier engagement was necessary and more information was required.
Councillors requested an interim report which will now be presented at the Planning Applications Committee on 9th December. There will also be Members’ Seminars held prior to each report being presented to the Planning Applications Committee which will ensure that members are fully informed of the process and investigation in order to make a considered judgement. The comments of the committee will be forwarded onto SPEN for their consideration.
The response to any formal consultation on a Section 37 application submitted to Scottish Ministers will still be considered by the Planning Applications Committee, with the final decision of the consultation being determined by full council.
Chair of the EEI, Councillor Colin Smyth said: “As mentioned in an earlier report from the Council, in terms of procedure, the application will be submitted by SPEN directly to the Scottish Government and not the council.
“The council will only be a statutory consultee, so it is not within the gift of Dumfries and Galloway Council to make any formal decisions on the outcome of the application, but it will be able to express an opinion and provide influence to the process of the decision the Scottish Government will make. Therefore the council opinion must be as informed as possible, and take all factors into account. “
“We will ensure that local people and communities are at the heart of our decision making by making our views known as early as possible, however because there is a planning process to be followed Members will be unable to make public statements which would suggest either their own conclusion or the final decision of the Council as this would breach the Standards Commission’s Code of Conduct.”