The Cairngorms National Park Authority is very disappointed that its objection has not been fully upheld. The delivery of electricity from renewable energy sources for Scotland is very important but it must also be balanced against safeguarding Scotland’s largest National Park, part of the nation’s environmental capital.
David Green, convener of the Cairngorms National Park Authority, said: “The CNPA recognises the need to respond to the challenges of climate change and supports the drive to maximise the amount of energy from renewable sources as the most sustainable way of providing for our future energy needs. However, sustainable energy production has to be matched by sustainable energy transmission with proper measures taken to safeguard the quality of environment between production and consumption, especially when that environment is recognised as being of outstanding national importance for its natural and cultural heritage. The Cairngorms National Park is such an area and the CNPA has always maintained that the preferred option would be that the pylons did not go through the Cairngorms National Park at all. However, this option was not included in the application submitted by Scottish Hydro-Electric Transmission Limited (SHETL) and Scottish Power Transmission Limited (SPT) to Scottish Government under the Electricity Act 1989.
“The CNPA was consulted by Scottish Government and assessed the impact of the application on the National Park. The CNPA objected on the basis that the proposal conflicted with the statutory National Park aims, did not meet the electricity and did not comply with Scottish Government planning policy and guidance and industry’s own guidelines for transmission lines in such areas, since it failed to demonstrate that there are no other alternative routes. The CNPA and partners submitted evidence at the inquiry on the potential for undergrounding in the National Park and requested that the Scottish Government facilitate discussions on alternative overhead and/or underground routes as well as the replacement of existing pylons with wooden poles in some locations in the Park.
“We are very disappointed that the line will still be coming through the National Park and there is no requirement for undergrounding. However, we still welcome the fact that Scottish Ministers have accepted many aspects of the case presented by the CNPA and acknowledged that the National Park is one of Scotland’s special areas and is a resource for the whole nation making significant contributions to the national tourism economy. Although the new line will have a significant adverse impact on the landscape in part of the National Park, the removal of lines elsewhere and transfer of other lines from pylons to wooden poles, which was requested by the CNPA, will be an enhancement which, although not offering mitigation, will compensate to a degree. We also welcome that our recommendation that the applicant make a contribution towards marketing initiatives in the affected areas has been upheld, and will, to some extent, address the impact on local business. The mitigation measures required for the actual transmission line are also helpful and the CNPA will work with the applicant to ensure that they are implemented for the benefit of the National Park. The CNPA has also been involved with the Environmental Liaison Group over the past year, which advises on the Construction Procedure Handbook, and will continue to be involved with this group.”
The Reporters’ findings and recommendations to Scottish Ministers can be found online at: www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Business-Industry/Energy