Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has published its 2016/17 Visual Impact of Scottish Transmission Assets (VISTA) review which recommends ten sites to be put forward for a £500m fund administered by the electricity and gas markets regulator, Ofgem, to mitigate the impact of existing electricity infrastructure on the visual amenity of nationally designated landscapes.
The VISTA project is part of a GB wide programme to minimise the visual impact of pre-existing transmission infrastructure, such as towers, overhead lines and substations, within the boundaries of National Parks and National Scenic Areas. Ofgem has set aside funding for the three GB Transmission Owners to bid into for their individual projects.
David Gardner, SSEN Director of Transmission, said: “With much of our network dating back to the 1950s when power was first delivered to the Highlands and Islands; consideration of the visual impact of this infrastructure was less pronounced, in part due to the planning rules in operation at the time.
“Whilst we now have more rigorous processes and consenting regimes for new infrastructure projects, VISTA offers a unique opportunity to look again at our assets and mitigate their impact in some of Scotland’s most precious landscapes.”
SSEN has identified ten individual proposals to take forward for further investigation, consisting of four engineering schemes, two in the Loch Lomond National Park and two in the Cairngorms National Park; with a further six landscaping proposals across a number of locations.
One of the designated landscapes being considered is the Cairngorms National Park. SSEN has been working closely with national park authorities to identify potential areas within the national park and agree the best ways to improve them.
Matthew Hawkins, Landscapes and Ecology Manager for the Cairngorms National Park Authority, said: “We are pleased to see the Cairngorms National Park being included within this initiative. The landscapes of the Cairngorms National Park are highly valued and known across the world. Anything that enhances these landscapes by reducing the impact from electricity infrastructure is very welcome. The National Park Authority is looking forward to working with SSEN on refining the projects they are considering.”
David Gardner, added: “Over the last twelve months we have worked closely with a wide range of stakeholders to identify potential schemes to take forward to the energy regulator for funding. We look forward to continuing to work positively with our stakeholders to leave a lasting legacy by improving the impact of our existing infrastructure on Scotland’s landscapes.”
The full report can be downloaded here.
For more information on the VISTA proposals please click here.