The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) is to include the views of community groups, other organisations and residents in its response to the application by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) for a 400kV pylon line from Beauly to Denny. Part of the proposed route for the powerline will cut through the Cairngorms National Park.
SSE has now lodged its planning application with the Scottish Executive. The official two month period for submissions begins on 14 October with a deadline of Monday 12 December.
Head of Planning and Development Control at the CNPA, Don McKee explained: “SSE has submitted a very weighty document running to over 1.2 million words. The company’s own estimate suggests that it would take someone six weeks to read the entire application. As a result, one of the first things the Park Authority will do is seek an extension to the two month period given for submissions.
“The process of assessing the application thoroughly, gathering evidence and a range views and finally writing the report will take at least three months in our opinion. Once we have that report it will be heard at one of our Planning Committee meetings, all of which are open to the public. It is at this stage that the Committee will debate the information and conclusions contained in the report and either ratify the submission or request changes.”
Due to the scale and nature of the development, the CNPA is unable to call-in the application in its own right but as one of the authorities covering the powerline’s proposed route, the CNPA will be asked for its detailed views and advice.
As part of its report – which will be compiled by the Park’s planning officers before going to the CNPA Planning Committee – views are being sought from within the Park and beyond with organisations or individuals encouraged to put their views in writing or to attend a series of meetings which will be arranged by the CNPA over the course of the next few weeks.
SSE is in the process of delivering copies of their submission to various local outlets where members of the public can study the application. These are: Laggan Stores; The Inn at Loch Ericht at Dalwhinnie; the Newtonmore Craft Centre and Highland Council’s service points at Aviemore and Kingussie. A copy of the Non Technical Summary and Frequently Asked Questions can be viewed at SSE’s website, www.scottish-southern.co.uk.
SSE’s planning application will be determined on the basis of the four aims of the Cairngorms National Park which are: to conserve and enhance the natural heritage; promoting sustainable use of the natural resources; promoting understanding and enjoyment of the Park’s special qualities and promoting sustainable and economic development.
CNPA Convener Andrew Thin said: “It has always been our opinion that this powerline should not go through the Cairngorms National Park. The application by SSE clearly shows that the intention is for the powerline to go through the Park.
“To fully and exhaustively assess these proposals will take a great deal of time and effort. However, at this early stage we can express our disappointment that undergrounding of the powerline is not considered for the section that will run through the Park. Let me assure members of the public that this application will be scrutinised thoroughly by our planning officers and members of the Planning Committee and that public opinion will be taken into account when developing our submission.”
Due to the sheer size of the document submitted to the Scottish Executive, the CNPA hopes to pool resources with partner organisations – such as The Highland Council and Scottish Natural Heritage – over the coming months with a view to sharing information and technical or expert advice. This would provide best value for money for public finances and still allow all of the agencies involved to develop their own independent submission.