The Beauly-Denny transmission project has been awarded the ‘Greatest Contribution to Scotland’ award at the prestigious Saltire Civil Engineering Awards.

Run by the Institution of Civil Engineers, in association with the Saltire Society, the annual awards recognise excellence and innovation in civil engineering and celebrate its contribution to quality of life in Scotland.  

At last night’s ceremony in Edinburgh, the judges recognised the importance of the Beauly-Denny project in securing Scotland's sustainable energy future and the decarbonisation of electricity generation. Presenting the award, Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Employability Training, praised the project’s contribution towards ‘building a sustainable low –carbon economy’ through the doubling of Scotland’s renewable energy network capacity.

Beauly-Denny is the longest transmission line to be built anywhere in the UK since the 1950s and crosses the highest and most inaccessible terrain on the Great Britain transmission system at the 2,526ft summit of the Corrieyairack Pass. The new 220km line has renewed the spine of the electricity transmission network between the Highlands and the Central Belt and is supported by 615 steel lattice towers which were specifically designed to take account of latest engineering standards.

Alongside reinforcement of the main existing transmission line between the Highlands and Aberdeenshire, the project has enabled over 80 additional wind, hydro and solar power developments by the end of 2015, providing almost 1500MW of additional generation capacity. It also contributed £100m to the Scottish economy through its development and construction, supporting more than 2000 jobs over a seven year period.

The Beauly-Denny project was delivered jointly by the transmission teams at Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) and SP Energy Networks and was supported by its primary contractors Balfour Beatty and Babcock. The line was energised in November 2015.

SSEN Project Director, Alastair Brand, was in attendance to collect the award. He said:

“We are all very humbled to receive this prestigious award. It is recognition of the enormous contribution the line has made to Scotland’s thriving renewable energy sector. It was the first, vital piece of a jigsaw that is still coming together today, unlocking Scotland’s vast renewable potential that has recently seen the installed capacity of renewables supported by the north of Scotland transmission network rise to over 4,500 megawatts of generation capacity.

“As well as being a remarkable engineering achievement, the project is also contributing in no small part to national and local climate change and renewable energy targets, as well as helping to maintain security of electricity supply.”

Convenor of the Saltire Awards judging panel, Ainslie McLaughlin, said:

"The complexity and challenges faced in delivering the Beauly-Denny project makes it a very worthy winner. Constructing a powerline in remote, inhospitable and environmentally challenging terrain, whilst maintaining safety and quality standards, shows a great expertise and dedication.”

As well as replacing a pre-existing 132 kilovolt overhead line, work associated with Beauly-Denny has also enabled the removal of some of the existing overhead network. Over 300 transmission towers have now been removed from the Cairngorms National Park, covering a distance of over 90km, resulting in over 1500 tonnes of steel for recycling, with the Cairngorms National Park now largely free of electricity transmission infrastructure.

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