Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), operating under licence as Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc, has published its Route Corridor Selection Report for the proposed reinforcement of the transmission network between Beauly, Blackhillock and Kintore.

The report sets out the assessment process completed to define a preferred route corridor from the three main route corridors initially under consideration. A year ago, the project team carried out extensive consultation on the preferred route corridor which was later expanded at its eastern end in response to feedback received.

This corridor has now been selected and the project team will begin to develop and assess detailed route options within it, including engagement with statutory authorities. Further public consultation is expected to take place as part of this work towards the end of 2017.

The proposed route corridor seeks to avoid areas of highest amenity value, including Culloden Battlefield and Bennachie. At Culloden, the proposed corridor is the far side of Strathnairn, further from the battlefield than the existing 275 kilovolt overhead line and is over 1.5km from the closest edge of the battlefield at its nearest point. Forestry and topography provide further opportunity for screening. The highest summit of Bennachie (Oxen Craig) is over 4km from the nearest point of the proposed corridor and Mither Tap is over 6km away. The detailed route selection work will seek to minimise landscape and visual impact in this area, recognising the importance and sensitivity of this landscape in Aberdeenshire.

Lead Project Manager, Greig Taylor, said:

“The selection of a route corridor is an important milestone for the development of our projects, but there is significant work still to be done before we will have a detailed design proposal.

“At every stage in the development of our proposals, we seek to achieve the best balance available between all relevant technical, environmental and economic considerations. We will engage further with communities and other stakeholders to explain the process we are following and to consider their views.

“As a responsible developer, we are committed to doing all we can to minimise the impacts of our work on local communities, including avoiding proximity to residential properties as far as possible. The route development and design process will consider a range of options to reduce and mitigate any impacts that cannot be avoided.

“I would like to thank everyone who has contributed their views via our consultation so far. As well as contributing to the selection of a route corridor, they have raised a huge range of topics which will guide our further detailed work in the year ahead and beyond.”

As the transmission owner in the north of Scotland, Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc is required by licence to develop and maintain an economic, efficient and coordinated transmission system, as well as ensuring security of supply to electricity consumers. The proposed network reinforcement is required to ensure the transmission network can securely accommodate recent and anticipated growth in electricity generation across the north of Scotland. The need and anticipated timing for the investment is reviewed on an annual basis in response to changing economic signals from a range of electricity generation and demand scenarios.

In advance of the next stage of public consultation the project team will seek to engage constructively with local communities to ensure they have the opportunity to scrutinise and influence the design process. Once a final route alignment is selected and a full Environmental Impact Assessment has been completed, a consent application will be made under Section 37 of the Electricity Act to the Scottish Ministers. The application is not expected to be submitted earlier than 2019.

A copy of the Route Corridor Selection Report can be found on the project websites:

http://www.ssen-transmission.co.uk/projects/beauly-blackhillock-reinforcement/ 

http://www.ssen-transmission.co.uk/projects/blackhillock-kintore-reinforcement/

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