Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, operating under licence as Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc for the transmission of electricity in the north of Scotland, has recently received approval from the energy regulator, Ofgem, for its Visual Impact of Scottish Transmission Assets (VISTA) policy. The policy approval gives Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks the green light to take forward proposals on improving the visual impact of its pre-existing transmission infrastructure within its transmission network in the north of Scotland.

The VISTA project is part of a GB wide programme to minimise the visual impact of pre-existing transmission infrastructure - for example towers, overhead lines and substations - within the boundaries of National Parks and National Scenic Areas. Ofgem has set aside funding of £500m for the three GB Transmission Owners to bid into for their individual projects.

Following the recent approval of its VISTA policy, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks is now undertaking detailed technical analysis of its proposals, which were informed following previous stakeholder engagement and consultation. Another round of consultation will be undertaken in the next six months to further develop and refine proposals.

Richard Baldwin, Head of Environment (Transmission) for Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, said:

“We work hard to find the right balance between providing a safe and secure supply of electricity, delivered in a cost efficient way, while doing all we can to minimise the impact on the landscape. We therefore welcome the opportunity to apply to Ofgem for funding to improve the visual impact of the existing assets we own within Scotland’s National Parks and National Scenic Areas.”

One of the designated landscapes being considered is the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, a collaboration with SP Energy Networks, the transmission owner for the south of Scotland. The transmission owners have been working closely with national park authorities on identifying potential areas within the national park and agreeing the best ways to improve them.

Sara Melville, Landscape Adviser at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, said:

“Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park staff have welcomed the opportunity to engage fully with this project as it has developed. We've been able to discuss our current projects and visions for the Park and where there is potential for real public benefit. It is exciting to think that we have a real chance of a share of the Ofgem money to address the impacts of some of the most visible pylons from key routes and visitor destinations within the Park’s special landscape.”

Richard Baldwin added:

“Working in collaboration with SP Energy Networks and the National Park authorities we have identified a number of locations we think we can make a positive difference. We look forward to the next round of consultation with the public and other statutory bodies within the next six months, ahead of submitting our first funding applications to Ofgem.”

Further information about the development of Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks’ Visual Impact of Scottish Transmission Assets (VISTA) policy is available here.

The image above shows the 132 kilovolt overhead line at the eastern end of the Glen Strathfarrar National Scenic Area (NSA).

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