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From the John O'Groat Journal. This is a response to SSEN's propaganda piece talking about setting up pylons, substations and transmission lines in massive corridors up and down and across the whole of the Scottish highlands, described as a 'reinforcement' project.


I read with increasing astonishment your article regarding SSEN’s ‘reinforcement’ programme. Let’s be clear this is not ‘reinforcement’. This is new massive infrastructure including super sized pylons, substations and transmission lines in new corridors up and down and across the whole of the Highlands. Communities are reeling at SSEN’s bombshell that was dropped on them in the Spring of this year. There has already been talk of Compulsory Purchase Orders if people don’t roll over to SSEN’s demands despite being assured that the scheme was ‘in the early stage of development’. At their ‘consultations’ in Beauly residents were stunned when staff referred to their home town as becoming a ‘spaghetti junction’ of transmission lines and ‘death by location’. Some left in tears.

You will have to forgive the good people of Beauly for taking SSEN’s promises and platitudes with a bucket of salt. They have already suffered the appalling Beauly to Denny pylon line and the ever growing noisy sprawling 42 acre Balblair substation. The new one proposed in a crofting community in Kiltarlity is expected to be 60 acres with ‘room for expansion’. One near Aberdeen will be 120 acres which will take approximately a third of a farmer’s land against his will, reducing his ability to make a living. This is brutal and I have already been told of people considering their future not only in the Highlands but in Scotland too. This is another clearances without any doubt and the Scottish government could stop this today if they so wished to protect their rural citizens. Planning is fully devolved and no turbine, pylon or substation will be erected without their approval. This is not a done deal and thousands of people are joining together determined to stop it.

Do we need it? Not according to analysis of the Scottish government’s own figures. The evidence of need has not been forthcoming from SSEN or Ofgem. A formal *submission was sent to them in April 2023 by recently formed Communities B4 Power Companies asking for evidence of need, the facts and figures*. The consumer is paying for it after all they are entitled to know how their money is being spent. Telling us ‘need has been established’ doesn’t cut it.

Scotland has enough transmission for the generation it has now and in planning. The new proposals are for England and their grid can’t take it and won’t for a decade. With their offshore wind programme, nuclear and subsea cables to Morocco will they even want it? We could be left with an environment of useless rusting industrial junk.

These new transmission lines are for unwanted (and not needed) new onshore wind development. SSEN’s own staff told us that. To hack a grotesque swathe through the glorious Highlands for generation we don’t need and has nowhere to flow to is insane. More wind development will mean even bigger constraints to turn turbines off as the bottleneck at the border increases. Majority shareholder SSE is maybe Scotland’s most successful wind developer and one of highest recipients of constraints but their money making ventures are not in the Highland’s or consumer’s interest. We should just stop and examine the situation and ask ourselves what is this all being done for? Highlanders, the consumers or profits for SSEN?

SSEN is not a charity. They are an extremely wealthy multinational and their shareholders will be their number one priority. Not the environment, wildlife or us.

We should also ask ourselves how can intermittent weather dependent energy give us energy security or protect us from global prices when the cost of wind is linked to the price of gas.

Instead of promoting industrialisation of one of the world’s most precious landscapes for profit we should take our foot off the gas (excuse the pun) and concentrate on localising energy and then these new transmission lines would stay on the drawing board where they belong.

Our First Minister, Humza Yousaf, said in Holyrood in April of this year that the “Scottish government will not impose on ANY community a policy they are vehemently opposed to”.

We fully intend to hold Mr Yousaf to that promise because make no mistake rural communities have had enough of seeing the land they love harvested for profit by ruthless multinationals and no amount of community ‘benefit’ will make it acceptable. We intend to fight this hard and for as long as it takes.

Lyndsey Ward
Spokeswoman for Communities B4 Power Companies

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