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CNPA objects to mega pylons in National Park

24th April 2009

The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) is objecting to proposals by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) to erect a new electricity powerline through a section of the Cairngorms National Park.

At its fortnightly planning committee meeting on Friday 21 April in Dalwhinnie and Laggan, the recommendation by planning officers to object to the new powerline was endorsed by the 16 members of the planning committee in attendance.

The reasons for objecting to the planning application by SSE include:

  • The proposal conflicts with all four aims of the National Park, which are to conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage; encourage sustainable use of the natural resources; support sustainable economic and social development of the Park’s communities; promote awareness and understanding of the special qualities of the area.
  • The proposal compromises the Cairngorms National Park’s designation as National Park and does not comply with National Planning Policy Guidance on Natural Heritage and the National Planning Framework.
  • The proposal fails to demonstrate that there is no other possible alternative route for the powerline and consequently, the proposal does not comply with the electricity industry’s own guidelines for the routing of new high voltage overhead transmission lines.

Addressing the planning committee this afternoon, Don McKee, the CNPA’s Head of Planning and Development Control said: “The recommendations made in the report are based on a full assessment by Park Authority staff of the detailed proposals as submitted. They do not take into account any possible alternatives, as that is not within the scope of the consultation and to do so would be speculative.  In coming to our recommendation we have assessed the proposal against the four aims of the Park, local and national planning policy and a variety of other material planning considerations. We have also taken on board the views of the communities most likely to be affected.”

The planning application submitted by SSE proposed that the route of the powerline cross the Cairngorms National Park from the end of the Corrieyairack Pass, down through Glen Shirra to Kinloch Laggan and Inver Pattack.  From here, over the hill to Cathar Mor and Dalwhinnie and then down the A9 to the Drumochter Pass.  The proposed line would be 28km long through the Park and the towers would be between 43m – 65m in height as opposed to the existing 25m towers.

At today’s meeting, CNPA planning committee members heard from representatives from SSE who explained why they had chosen this particular route and from objectors to the scheme who were represented by the group, Cairngorms Revolt Against Pylons.  Each party was given 20 minutes to outline their case.

Speaking after the meeting, CNPA Convener Andrew Thin said: “We have always said that we would prefer any new transmission line did not come through the Park and if it should, then any application should incorporate serious consideration of undergrounding.  Through our planning team we will now be seeking an early meeting with all those involved in this consultation to explore and report on alternative overhead and underground routing.  If there is to be a Public Inquiry we would want to see the reports arising from these meetings contributing to an Inquiry or result in a new application for a revised proposal.”

The CNPA’s response to the consultation will be submitted to the Scottish Executive next week. The full report can be accessed on the Planning page.