Burying Mega-Power Line Would Force Total Rethink,
Inquiry is Told
Feb 7, 2007 energycentral.com The
Controversial plans to build an overhead power line
through Scotland are both necessary and cost effective,
an inquiry was told yesterday.
The scheme is also "demonstrably more economic"
than putting the line underground, according to
the would-be developers.
They warned that if parts of the line had to be
buried, the whole scheme would have to be re-evaluated
because of the extra costs involved.
The inquiry opened in Perth into proposals to
replace the existing 137-mile electricity transmission
line between Beauly near Inverness, and Denny, near
Stirling, to help take power from planned renewable
But the scheme by Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission
(SHETL), a subsidiary of Scottish & Southern
Energy (SSE); and SP Transmission, a subsidiary
of ScottishPower, has met objections from the five
planning authorities involved - Highland, Perth
and Kinross, Stirling and Falkirk councils, and
the Cairngorms National Park Authority.
More than 17,000 people have also protested and
a number of campaign groups have been formed to
fight the plans, claiming the new line will threaten
health, landscape, tourism, wildlife and property
The proposed GBP 320 million, 400,000-volt transmission
line would replace the 132,000-volt line. It would
use about 600 pylons - some 200 fewer than in the
one it will replace - but they will be more than
20 metres higher at 67 metres (200ft).
The inquiry's first witness, David Densley, SHETL's
regulations manager, said the energy regulator Ofgem
had considered the plan and seen it as necessary
He said the planned overhead route was demonstrably
more economic than going underground, as campaigners
are calling for.
Mr Densley said the electricity companies would
recoup the cost of the upgrade over 20 years. However,
if the inquiry reporters decided some or all of
the line had to be put underground, the companies
would have to return to Ofgem to seek approval for
He said that as Ofgem's main concern was to protect
prices to customers, the regulator would be keen
to cap the cost as ultimately this would find its
way back on to electricity bills.
The inquiry is set to become the longest ever
in Scotland, with 29 weeks set aside over the next
11 months, and will cost an estimated GBP 10 million.
The first eight weeks will be taken up with SHETL
making the case for the upgrade. The inquiry will
then move to Inverness in May and June; Kingussie
in August and September; back to Perth during October
and November; and then Stirling in November and
Before evidence started yesterday Colin Hood,
SSE's operating officer, said
: "We believe (the plans) are strongly founded
and will eventually receive the go-ahead. It is
vital that they do, because the country's goals
for greener and more indigenous sources of energy
depend on it."
However, it has been claimed the inquiry will
waste time and money and discredit the planning
Highland Council has questioned whether communities
and pressure groups will be able to attend much
of the inquiry and be properly represented.
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