Galloway SNP MP Richard Arkless has expressed his concerns about the SP Energy Networks Strategic Reinforcement Project which will see a new overhead transmission network built from near Auchencrosh, in South Ayrshire, through Dumfries and Galloway, to the existing high-voltage substation at Harker, near Carlisle, a distance of around 109 miles.
Richard Arkless said: “It’s early days in this project but I have received a lot of correspondence from constituents expressing concern about the project. The concerns seem to be twofold: firstly, is the project actually needed? And secondly my constituents are very worried about the proposed route of the pylons
“In relation to the first concern, I believe that this upgrade is necessary.
“Dumfries & Galloway needs an energy infrastructure fit for the 21st century. We have a low wage/low GVA economy, and if we are ever to have ambitions to change that, which I have, the energy infrastructure needs to be capable of supplying the significant energy new entrants in Dumfries & Galloway would require. I believe Dumfries & Galloway can be so much more and this project could help us achieve that in the long term. I have been working with several potential investors and proposed developments right across our region since being elected, and can tell you that their interest would cool if we were not to have this upgrade.
“I think having the scope for more investment into Dumfries & Galloway is vital. We cannot have a situation where our energy infrastructure leaves us at a competitive disadvantage to other areas in Scotland and the UK when it comes to attracting investment. With economic advantage after economic advantage seemingly piled onto the conurbations of the UK, we cannot fall further behind. If I were to agree that this project is not needed, I feel I would be robbing future generations in Dumfries & Galloway the chance to grow our region as I believe it can be grown.
“In relation to the second concern, I believe that we need to do everything we can to find a better solution. My constituents are clearly not happy about the route and I very much share their concerns.
“It is not lost on me that Dumfries & Galloway has been here before, almost a generation ago when massive pylons were erected in the West, causing much controversy.
“It is difficult for the communities affected to understand why the new pylons cannot simply follow current pylon routes; routes long since (reluctantly) accepted by local communities. I note that this is planned for some sections of the route but not all.
“It is likewise difficult for local communities to understand why their landscape will be blighted by this development when there may be viable alternatives, such as the potential of burying the cables required at land or sea.
“Communities are also concerned about the environmental impact along certain sections of the route. Having read the proposals, I am not convinced these concerns have been adequately addressed.”
Mr Arkless has forwarded all the comments he has received along with his own thoughts on the project to SP Energy Networks as part of their consultation which closes at midnight on August 31st.
If anyone would like to contact Mr Arkless on this or any other issue, they should email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the constituency office in Dumfries on 01387 265 698.