Residents in Braehead say they were shocked when a row of electricity poles were erected ‘out of the blue’ late last year.
On December 6, 2016 residents in Braehead discovered that new poles had been erected near their homes, which they claim obstruct their view and spoil their outlook. The residents also claim they were unaware that the poles were going to be located so near to their homes and have since petitioned SPEN to consider alternative options.
Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN) are permitted to erect new power lines if no objections are raised after a short consultation period giving notice to the local community. However, residents claim the consultation was “misleading” and “ineffective” as SPEN referred to the location of the line as Bladnoch – Baldoon instead of Braehead-Kirkinner and therefore failed to reach those people most affected.
Galloway MP Richard Arkless said: “SPEN have treated the consultation as nothing more that a tick box exercise – they have not listened to the concerns that the residents in Braehead have raised. SPEN made a mistake with the notification of these lines – they were advertised incorrectly - and referred to as ‘replacement’ overhead lines - which they are not - they are a new route of overhead lines.”
Braehead resident Paul Bainbridge said: “The poles and lines appeared out of the blue on December 6th, to the shock and horror of all residents. Due to the level of the ground they visually intrude right across our living room windows.
“We were not consulted by SPEN but they told us that D&G Council and Wigtown Community Council should have consulted us. It is SPEN’s responsibility under the Electricity Act to consult. We are asking that the original underground power lines are replaced underground in the highway for a short distance, and that the new lines and poles are removed.”
A spokesperson for SP Energy Networks said: “SP Energy Networks takes customer engagement and responsibilities regarding planning requirements extremely seriously. The work being undertaken is part of a large investment programme following severe storms in Dumfries and Galloway in March 2013. SP Energy Networks embarked on a £10 million investment programme to improve the resilience of the electricity network. The new wooden pole overhead line will significantly improve the overall performance of the network and provide a secure supply for the local residents.
“We have carried out extensive community engagement over the last two years. As part of our work we created a Wigtown Stakeholder Group which met quarterly to discuss our investment plans for the area and our progress against these plans. This group consisted of Community Councillors, Council officials, SPEN and contractors. We also hosted community drop-in sessions at local venues to allow the residents to view our plans and comment as required.”
Breahead residents raised the issue at the January meeting of the Royal Burgh of Wigtown and District Community Council meeting, where they asked the community councillors if they should have been given information about the poles intended route from them, but Convenor Matt Kitson said it was not the role of community councils to inform the residents, that was the statutory responsibility of the company, in this case SPEN.