Members of Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks’ (SSEN’s) project team met local residents at Lairg Community Centre on Friday evening to provide an update to local residents on the progress of its ongoing Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the proposed Lairg-Loch Buidhe transmission link. The meeting was chaired by local MP, Dr Paul Monaghan.

SSEN, operating under licence as Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc, is proposing to build a new substation on the edge of plantation forestry at Dalchork and a connection to the Loch Buidhe substation which is currently in construction north of Bonar Bridge. The new link would enable the removal of the 132 kilovolt single circuit transmission line that currently runs between Inveran and Lairg.

Through the EIA, SSEN is assessing the impacts associated with its proposals and investigating options to eliminate, reduce or mitigate these impacts. As part of this process, SSEN’s project team has identified a potential variation to the preferred overhead line route that was originally identified in June 2014 and now intends to assess the two options in parallel.

Commenting, SSEN Project Manager Joanne Seath said: “Following engagement with the community and initial work on our Environmental Impact Assessment, we have identified a potential route variation which we now intend to assess in parallel with the overhead line route previously identified. We are also considering whether there are any further design variations available that can help to reduce or mitigate the visual impact of the development, while fulfilling our other obligations.

“We are required by our licence to offer fair terms of connection to any new sources of electricity generation or demand that want to connect – and to balance technical, environmental and economic considerations in doing so. We have generators that are contracted to connect in the area north of Lairg and are continuing to develop plans in order to be able to meet their needs. The situation is kept under regular review to make sure we are able to deliver the right solution at the right time, recognising that the plans of generation developers may change.

“We are very grateful for the local community’s constructive engagement with our work over recent years. We would welcome any initial comments on the proposed route variation, both now and through further public consultation which will be publicised later in the year.”

Updated maps showing the potential variation on the proposed connection route has been published on SSEN’s project website. Initial comments can be sent to SSEN’s Community Liaison Manager, Lisa Marchi, on by Friday 3 March 2017. Further public consultation is planned later in 2017 to present visualisations of design options and receive further feedback.

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